Bart Bosveld, SETAC Europe Executive Director
The spread of the Corona virus is having an increasing impact on society as a whole, including on all types of gatherings across the world. The planning for the SETAC Europe 30th Annual Meeting from 3–7 May in Dublin, Ireland, is impacted by this situation as well. The SETAC Europe staff, leadership and annual meeting chairs have been closely monitoring the situation related to the coronavirus over the past several weeks.
We have been taking our guidance from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the European Commission, National Public Health Authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO). While to date, the Irish or Dublin City Council have not implemented any restrictive measures for large meetings in general, they have cancelled the annual parade in Dublin in celebration of St Patrick’s day on 17 March. We are seeing an increasing number of countries, regions and organizations implementing travel and meeting restrictions, and we note the increasing concern among our colleagues who have registered for the SETAC Dublin meeting.
We are aware that there is growing uncertainty among SETAC members and meeting registrants about the possibilities to proceed with the Dublin meeting as planned. This message is to inform you that we are currently considering if it is feasible to continue with a physical meeting or whether it would be best, in the current circumstances, to replace the event with one or more virtual events taking place either on the dates scheduled for the meeting (3–7 May 2020) or sometime later in the year.
We would like to assure you that we are on top of the situation and will inform you about any further steps well before 1 April. The early cancellation policy, with a full refund minus €50 for administrative and financial costs, remains in place until that date. We encourage you to bear with us for the time being, to keep your registration to the meeting valid, and not to cancel or withdraw your presentation from the program until you receive more information from us. Please give us a little time to better assess the situation, to work out a plan for the possible situation and to ensure a smooth transition into a possible virtual event.
We have received the overwhelming response of 2,000 early registrations, 1,817 presenters taking part in the scientific program, 60 organizations registered for the exhibition, and numerous business meetings are planned for the parallel program. In case we are required to cancel the physical meeting, we are working on options to provide a fully-fledged virtual alternative that would provide ample opportunities for presenters to share their work and interact with delegates, for exhibitors to present their business and set up meetings with interested delegates and provide virtual meeting rooms for all types of business meetings.
We greatly appreciate the large number of registrations that we continue to receive for the conference, despite the uncertainties. The unprecedented situation we now find ourselves in has put the SETAC office under great pressure, and we ask for your understanding. If you have any questions or concerns that are not addressed in this message, we ask you to be patient as we will provide another update with additional details soon.
SETAC Europe Executive Director