BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
ORGANISERS of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) have put in place strict COVID-19 measures for this year’s trade exhibition, with children under the age of 18 not allowed to attend.
Running under the theme: “Showcasing the New Normal for Business and Industry: Realities and Opportunities”, the show seeks to bring normalcy and stability to business, industry and the national economy following the disruption by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It will run from September 21 to 24, 2021 at the ZITF Grounds in Bulawayo.
Addressing a Press conference in Bulawayo yesterday, ZITF Company chairman Busisa Moyo said as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, children would not be allowed to attend this year’s show.
“Robust health and safety protocols have been established under the advice of public health authorities, particularly the Health and Child Care ministry and the Bulawayo City Council. We have also enlisted the help of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and key players in the business of tourism (hotels, airlines) in communicating and enforcing health and safety protocols outside the exhibition centre,” Moyo said.
In addition to vaccination, Moyo said over the past few weeks, his teams had been undergoing training and working to ensure that they have the human and system capabilities to deliver not only a successful, but a COVID-19 safe show.
Some of the initiatives include online registration for both exhibitors and visitors so as to minimise paper-exchange and in-person interface time, crowd management in exhibition halls to ensure each venue complies with the recommended attendee threshold, sanitisation station at each gate and hall entrance as well as clear signage indicating safety protocols and direction of hygiene facilities.
Moyo said there would be a “COVID-19 police” team to encourage and enforce compliance with all health and safety protocols.
“(There would be) an on-site medical service facility for the provision of medical support and case management in the event that a participant exhibits any of the COVID-19 symptoms. Public days (have been) reduced to one. Additionally, no children under 18 will be allowed,” he said.
“All exhibitors, vendors, service providers and conference delegates will be required to produce a negative COVID-19 test result (PCR or antigen) taken within 48 hours of the beginning of the show. One-day visitors do not need to take a test as they will spend limited time at the show and will be under close monitoring by COVID-19 police,” he said.
“We encourage participants to take advantage of the government’s intensified COVID-19 vaccination drive and ensure that they would have received at least one dose by the time of the show,” Moyo said.
To date, Moyo said 357 direct exhibitors had booked and confirmed participation on 40 109-square metre exhibition space. Of these, 11% are first-time exhibitors.
In terms of geographical mix, Moyo said 62% of confirmed local exhibitors were from Harare, 25% from Bulawayo, 10% from other cities and 3% foreigners.
Ten countries are participating, namely Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania.
In 2019, there were 456 direct exhibitors and 17 countries.
The exhibition, usually held in April every year, was postponed several times due to COVID-19 restrictions.