Formnext is back in-person this year, but with some important new rules for attendees to follow. In 2020, when all the industry events were either going virtual, postponing, or were cancelled completely, Formnext, the largest annual event in the additive manufacturing industry, hung on the longest, promising to host fewer attendees for a less crowded floor and implement wider aisles, touchless registration, heavy cleaning protocols, and virtual access. But, in the interest of public health and safety, Formnext eventually announced that it would be cancelling the physical event in Frankfurt that fall.
The organizers pivoted quickly to set up Formnext Connect, a digital-only format of the trade show, which was still pretty successful, with 45,000 spectators tuning in on their computers to watch lectures, presentations, and visit virtual exhibit booths from top AM companies and startups.
So, what are the new rules for attending “Formnext 2021: AM live and in color” next month? In order to maintain what it calls “maximum levels of safety and freedom,” organizer Mesago Messe Frankfurt consulted with the Exhibitor Advisory Board and has announced that the show floor will only be open to those who have recovered from, or been vaccinated against, COVID-19.
According to a Formnext press release, the “legal framework” for this decision came from the state of Hesse’s Corona Protection Ordinance, which gives event organizers a choice between the German “2G” rule—recovered and vaccinated persons only—or the “3G” rule, which only gives access to people who have recovered from COVID, been vaccinated against it, or have been tested for it.
“When making our decision, we carefully weighed up the pros and cons of both options,” explained Petra Haarburger, President of Mesago Messe Frankfurt. “We decided that the 2G rule ensures more safety, freedom and convenience at the exhibition grounds.”
As the “2G” rule allows for only COVID-19 recovered or vaccinated attendees, no one needs to worry about social distancing or wearing a mask. Having just attended RAPID + TCT 2021 and conducted multiple masked interviews at exhibitor booths, I can tell you that will be a major perk. Pairing this rule with good ventilation in the halls of the trade show should keep things at Formnext 2021 pretty safe.
Vice President of Mesago Messe Frankfurt’s Formnext event Sascha Wenzler said, “We were glad to take advantage of this rule in Hesse because it allows our exhibitors and visitors to enjoy an authentic trade show experience and hold normal conversations.”
These new rules are mandatory—if you haven’t had COVID and recovered from it, or been vaccinated against it, you cannot attend. This goes for all service providers, exhibitors, attendees, and trade show organizer employees, no ifs, ands, or buts. There will be checkpoints set up across the Formnext exhibition to make sure that everyone is complying with the new rules. People who have recovered from the virus will need the appropriate official document in order to verify their status, and if you’re vaccinated, proof is required for that as well. Plus, if you received a vaccine that’s not licensed in Germany, in addition to your proof of vaccination, you’ll also need a sample from a PCR test that took place less than 48 hours prior; a rapid antigen test won’t cut it. Additionally, whether you’re vaccinated or recovered, you have to observe country-specific travel regulations as well. If you can’t, or won’t, attend Formnext 2021 in-person from November 16th-19th, you can always attend Formnext Digital Days, November 30th and December 1st.
Another industry event organizer, SME, created specific guidelines for its US and Canadian events; for instance, Los Angeles County, which hosts WESTEC and AeroDef, and Chicago, which hosted RAPID, require masks, while the Province of Ontario, which is where the Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show (CMTS) now requires event attendees to be fully vaccinated, and vaccinated individuals in Texas and South Carolina—HOUSTEX and SOUTHTEC—are not required to wear masks.
I’ll be curious to see if these new rules affect attendance at Formnext—we all know that vaccination status is a pretty hot button issue right now. I imagine some will feel safer with the new mandates, while others may be up in arms about a vaccine being required for yet another event.
You can register for Formnext 2021 here.
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