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Coronavirus disrupts upcoming photonics events

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A number of core photonics trade shows have been postponed or cancelled to ensure the health and safety of event participants during the coronavirus outbreak.

However, other conferences such as the Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exhibition (OFC) are expected to take place as normal. 

Light + Building, due to take place in Frankfurt from 8 March, has been postponed to September, while LED Professional Symposium (LpS) - also based in Frankfurt - has been cancelled altogether. Laser World of Photonics China, which was planned for 18-20 March in Shenzen, has been postponed - but with no details about its rescheduling. 

The organiser of LpS 2020, Luger Research, said: 'Due to the further rapid expansion of the coronavirus and the fact that no vaccine is yet available, medical experts advise there is a risk that in September 2020 the epidemic may still be present in Europe,' in a statement.

'The health and safety of all participants and the successful execution of the events are our top priorities. Unfortunately this is no longer possible this year,' added Siegfried Luger, Luger's event director.

OFC, taking place 8-12 March in San Diego, California, has announced that the event will go ahead as planned, but with additional protocols to promote hygiene - such as increased availability of hand sanitising stations and health awareness campaigns. 

'Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, OFC Management is closely monitoring the ongoing potential impact for our attendees, exhibitors, and vendors', said Ryan Strowger, head of OFC management. 'We are following the guidance from worldwide health organisations and experts. We are fully committed to taking appropriate precautions to provide a safe and healthy environment for attendees.'

Conferences in February were also affected by the coronavirus, but others went ahead largely unphased.

Photonics West saw visitors gather as normal in San Francisco at the beginning of the month. Despite there being a couple of empty booths resulting from travel restrictions, the Electro Optics team felt that the exhibition floor and coinciding conferences were as busy as usual.  

Mobile World Congress Barcelona, due to take place 24-27 February, was cancelled after a number of key exhibitors withdrew from the event. These included Amazon, Ericsson, Nvidia, Sony and Viavi Solutions. The organisers offered reassurance to the remaining exhibitors and visitors that health and safety measures had been stepped up, but ultimately, organiser GSMA took the decision to cancel for 2020. Next year’s event is still scheduled to go ahead from 1-4 March 2021.