As the summer season kicks off, those in the home furnishings and lighting industries inevitably think of summer market season. Granted, this year is a strange one in that market dates have been delayed in the hopes that the majority of states will have reopened fully for all aspects of retail business and buyers will feel comfortable venturing out to a trade show with safety protocols in place.

In advance of the Atlanta, Las Vegas, and High Point Markets, International Market Centers (IMC) has released its “Together Safely” plan for reopening those market buildings in time for each respective show.

IMC’s plan – which details safety mitigants and operational protocols for IMC facilities, staff, customers, and third-party vendors – was developed by its task force in consultation with a top epidemiologist and in concert with government mandates and public health recommendations. The full 30-page plan is accessible to anyone and available online at TogetherSafely.com.

“As we prepare to reopen our campuses and our markets, the health and well-being of our customers and staff are the top priority for IMC,” says Bob Maricich, IMC’s CEO. “The Together Safely plan aims to address every moment of the campus experience and sets guidelines for each interaction – from arrival to departure – to ensure that we are creating an environment where all steps recommended by health and local officials have been taken to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19 from one individual to another.”

To that end, IMC has continually monitored guidance issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), government leaders, industry groups, and other experts throughout the COVID-19 crisis. In preparation for reopening of its facilities, IMC created a cross-functional team to produce a set of protocols which have been vetted by state and municipal officials as well as the Emory University School of Medicine and Rollins School of Public Health in Atlanta.

The resulting plan dictates that IMC reopen its campuses in four phases: 1. pre-opening preparation; 2. resumption of year-round business; 3. recall of employees, and 4. resumption of markets ― with specific guidelines for tenants, attendees, and staff during each phase. Additionally, IMC has added physical mitigants on the campuses including the development of new contactless registration procedures, the requirement of personal protective equipment (PPE) for all attendees and staff, expanded sanitization policies, and the implementation of social distancing and traffic control measures. The Together Safely protocols are mandatory for all during their time on each IMC campus and serve as recommended guidelines for tenants developing protocols for their own showrooms.

“We have done the hard work of creating and implementing these new protocols so our buyers and suppliers can do their important work ― sourcing and selling the products necessary for business reopening and economic recovery,” Maricich adds.

Together Safely is positioned as a living document, to be revisited, reviewed, and revised on an ongoing basis as developments in the impact of COVID-19 may require. These protocols will be reevaluated by IMC and additions and refinement of these protocols will be posted to the website TogetherSafely.com before and during each IMC market.