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Large seafood convention in Boston postponed due to coronavirus fears

The organizers of the annual Seafood Expo North America, one of the nation's largest seafood conventions, announced today they are postponing the event, which was due to open March 15 at the South Boston convention center.

Meanwhile, organizers of an AIDS-research conference scheduled to open at the Hynes this weekend say they will announce tonight whether they are postponing or cancelling their event. As recently as this past weekend, the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections was still on.

In a posting today, Diversified Communications explained why it will not be holding the seafood convention, at least not as originally scheduled:

After many weeks of monitoring the evolving situation around COVID-19 and evaluating the full spectrum of feedback we received among hundreds of calls and emails, we, Diversified Communications, have decided that the 40th edition of Seafood Expo North America/Seafood Processing North America will not take place as scheduled in March and is postponed while we look at other options.

This decision has been difficult because of the major importance of this event to the industry. We heard from those of you who were concerned about health, safety and travel restrictions, and given the short time before the scheduled event date, and upcoming logistics, we have determined that postponement at this time is unavoidable.

We are committed to finding a solution to deliver an event in North America, this year, to ensure business continuity to the seafood industry. Details on when and where will be communicated directly with our customers in the next month. Depending on date and location availability, the event might look slightly different for 2020 but will continue to provide the opportunities to connect suppliers and buyers in the industry.

The convention was expected to bring 18,000 exhibitors and attendees to the convention center.

In their update, posted yesterday, the organizers of the AIDS-research conference wrote:

As the events of the past 72 hours have evolved, it is clear that in many countries and regions of the world, including here in the U.S., SARS CoV-2 has continued to spread. In a number of countries, again including the U.S., evidence has emerged that the virus is circulating within local communities and is no longer one that can be controlled by border-based travel restrictions. While public health authorities in the U.S. are expanding testing and continuing their high level of vigilance, they have indicated that the risk to the general public of acquiring coronavirus infections outside of outbreak settings remains low. While fully recognizing that it is critical to preserve avenues to disseminate the important science that is the focus of the conference to the greatest extent possible, the CROI leadership remains committed to making the best decision possible for the safety of our attendees, their families and their communities. We are unfortunate in having to make decisions about the status of the conference when the information about the epidemic remains fluid. We are continuing to seek input from a broad array of conference registrants and local, state and federal infectious diseases and public health experts.

The conference was slated to bring 4,300 attendees to the Hynes.

Organizers of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society conference, also at the Hynes, however, said today their event, starting March 14, remains on:

At the present time, the health authorities do not recommend cancellation of upcoming events, and characterize the risks in Massachusetts as low. The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority has taken extra measures to ensure health and safety of visitors. Therefore, as of this date, the annual meeting will proceed as planned.

The society added:

If you are traveling to CNS 2020 from a country that has had a government travel ban imposed, then CNS will provide you a refund on your registration.

H/t Drew Starr.

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