The Salone del Mobile in Milan revealed this week a "plan B" for a digital version of the fair. Concerns are growing about the possibility that the event (rescheduled to September) can take place in person.
Last week, the organizers of the Milan furniture fair invited the Italian government to provide reassurance on the possibility of holding the event in attendance from 5 to 10 September.
"Everyone wants to go to the Salone for business but also to rediscover that much missed socialization in these very hard and painful months of pandemic", says the president of the Salone del Mobile Milano. Claudio Luti. "But it is essential that the institutions give us precise answers. We expect certainties from the government".
The green light at the Salone del Mobile? Linked to a decree
In a press release published last week, Luti urged the government to chart a path, with a roadmap starting on April 6, the date of the next DPCM on the pandemic.
The press release asks the authorities for clarity on the vaccination program, on health passports and on the resumption of international flights, as well as on the conduct of fairs, currently prohibited.
"We will be able to confirm the Salone del Mobile in Milan only if the DPCM of April 6 gives the green light to the fairs", says Luti.
It would be important to have a certain date for the resumption of the fairs in the next DPCM, but also a definition of the vaccination plan and a realistic calendar for reaching the vaccination levels that will allow Italy to be considered a safe country to welcome visitors from abroad. And this is neither easy nor immediate.
The president of the Salone del Mobile in Milan also asked for clarification on the "vaccine passports" proposed by the EU, which could be used to ensure that visitors to the fair are virus-free.
Meanwhile, plan B takes shape: that of an all-digital Salone del Mobile
Luti's appeal came because a new wave of coronavirus cases in Italy, coupled with delays in the country's Covid-19 vaccination program, cast doubt on the feasibility of the event. It is, I remember, the largest and most important furniture fair in the world.
The event, which has already been moved from April to September, includes hundreds of collateral events known as the "Fuorisalone", which have also been rescheduled.
The Salone del Mobile in Milan is also working on a digital version of the fair.
Most of the events affected by the pandemic
The pandemic continues to disrupt the global calendar of events. Most of these have been canceled, postponed or drastically reduced.
It is very likely that the pandemic will have a long-term impact on large trade fairs.
The old way of producing a physical fair is over for me. Events of this kind, however, must find ways to "stay alive" throughout the year in different ways.