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Silvia Fabbri of IEG

Transparent Masks, Antibody Testing: Italy Prepares for Meetings

The country will relax border controls in June but introduce stringent hygiene initiatives for large events.

Italy is cautiously reopening after being one of the worst hot spots for COVID-19. The country’s prime minister has announced that travel to Italy from abroad and between regions in the country will be allowed from June 3, and its meetings and events industry is unveiling new safety measures to reassure planners and attendees.

These infographics from the Italian Exhibition Group outline steps from thermal scanning and mask distribution to doors without handles and limited hall capacity.

There are two novel ideas IEG is implementing. First, transparent face masks will make verbal communication easier for lip readers. Second, there will be voluntary serology testing of all exhibition staff. Silvia Fabbri, human resources and organization director, says that “IEG is ready to provide the possibility of carrying out serological tests in all four of its branches, to offer all staff members the possibility of the test on a voluntary basis." A serology test, taken from a blood sample, determines whether a person has developed antibodies to COVID-19 due to previous illness from or asymptomatic exposure to the virus.

The assumption is that a person with antibodies can no longer catch the disease and therefore won’t be a carrier. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not concluded that antibodies provide immunity from future infection, or if it does, how long the immunity lasts.  

The possibility of testing industry employees could be the precursor to medical requirements for any participation in large-scale meetings, whether it be airlines requiring a vaccine certificate along with a boarding pass or employers requiring proof of immunity from prospective employees. Fabbri explains that testing is just one of a number of safety measures, and adds that “Now [exhibitions] are starting again, there will be ad-hoc training for the company committees, who will have the task of carrying out health and protection protocols.”

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