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Covid 19 – making the call to cancel a fully prepared conference

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Frances Baskerville, Secretary-General, CIRM

Covid 19 – making the call to cancel a fully prepared conference

There we are, preparing and enjoying the prospect of our best CIRM Annual Conference yet – more bookings than previously recorded, international delegates from all corners.  More sponsors, bigger and better programme, everything enhanced in so many ways, with a lovely venue and pretty much guaranteed good weather in Malta … then this.  The rapid spread across China, followed by Italy and then most of our countries – we hung on as long as we could but yesterday started the process of undoing our plans. 

Where to start?  Well, with the hotel and the contract.  Not helpful that we are past the cut off point for delegates cancelling their accommodation reservations and that some airlines are still swallowing our money for cancelled flights which is understandable, we are now trying to make the best of a bad situation and adjust to a new set of thinking.  The hotel are being helpful and given that they are emptying fast I rather feel for them.  Most of our attendees will be able to fit in with a new date which will likely be this time next year and although we will suffer some small financial losses we’re going to stay positive and work on the best all-around solutions.  Yes we are insured for ‘event cancellation’ but, of course, this particular set of circumstances voids that –   It would seem that communicable diseases mean ‘no payout’ on our policy.

I have a mixture of relief and great regret.  So much was planned down to fine detail.  A lot of thinking, calls, emails, purchases all now to wait for twelve months or so before re-emerging.  It’s good to see so much positivity within the CIRM Membership.  Up to today, I have been receiving lots of encouragement from people saying ‘we are looking forward to coming’.  Another booking was made yesterday!  But amongst that, are the few who will be ringing me to say ‘I told you so’ – ah hindsight!

We are looking forward to growing the CIRM family with a solid year’s work ahead, IMO or no IMO, Geneva or no Geneva, travel or no travel.  It will be an interesting AGM for us this April as it now has to  be held mainly by proxy in London.  Constitutionally, it has to happen,  being scheduled for within the conference period. We may now find that holding it via WebEx and with proxy voting, means it’s over in record breaking time, setting a precedent for years to come.  A good outcome!

Wishing all of you the best of health and not wanting any of my colleagues or otherwise to contract coronavirus.  Just enjoy working from home and taking time to rethink how to be.

Frances Baskerville
Secretary-General
Comité International Radio-Maritime (CIRM)

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