Ohio's governor and the mayor of Columbus announced this week they would limit spectators for this year’s Arnold Sports Festival over concerns about the coronavirus. But the impact on other major events coming to the city is still uncertain.
Later this month, the North American Bridge Championships and the Columbus International Auto Show will both be held at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
“The other events are not as diverse a crowd,” says Don Brown, executive director of the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority. “Secondly, they aren’t concentrated in a trade show or exhibit floor like would have occurred at the Arnold exposition.”
The Arnold is by far the biggest event held at the convention center, he says, drawing 20,000 competitors from 80 different countries. At the same time, over 200,000 fans attend events connected to the Arnold's competitions and trade expo, which was canceled this week.
In comparison, the bridge championship and the auto show will likely only bring in about 40,000 people, Brown estimates. And those people will be coming from around the country, or just around the state.
“No matter the size of the group, we’re taking extra precautions,” Brown says. “We have hand sanitizer stations set up every 30-50 feet. We’re encouraging people to wash their hands frequently as well as use that sanitizer. Our cleaning staff will be sanitizing all surfaces that are frequently touched by people including elevator buttons and escalator handrails.”
Zack Doran, president of the Ohio Auto Dealers Association, helps put on the Columbus International Auto Show.
“Both us as the show producer as well as the convention centers are following CDC standards very closely right now because of this coronavirus issue," Doran says. "But as of right now, we’re looking forward to having another successful show!”
Doran says the show usually draws crowds from around the state, despite the event’s name.
There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ohio, and one person is under investigation for their symptoms.
The Ohio Department of Health makes the following recommendations to protect yourself from illness:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; dry hands with a clean towel or air dry hands.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable.
- Cover your mouth with a tissue or sleeve when sneezing or coughing. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.