As the Covid pandemic still is causing havoc throughout the world, and the threat of a third wave is looming, hosting an event such as Expo 2020 Dubai is a major challenge indeed. The fair will draw 25 million visitors over the course of its six-month run beginning October 1, with health safety as the top concern for both visitors and participants.
Expo 2020 has revealed the extensive Covid preparation and strict health and safety guidelines to ensure the event will be safe. With crowd-patrolling Robots, AI-assisted queue control and isolation rooms, roving paramedics, hand sanitizing stations, and emergency aid clinics, the Expo 2020 team has taken safety as a top priority, said Rob Cooling, the Expo’s vice president of health, safety, quality, and environment.
“At Expo, we developed a comprehensive set of guidelines in conjunction with all of the key government agencies, including the Dubai Health Authority, Dubai Municipality, Dubai Police, etc.,” he said. We take steps to protect visitors, workers, volunteers, staff, contractors, and international participants. Cooling said that these guidelines are based on sound public health practices that have been tested all over the world. “Our number one priority is the health, safety, and well-being of everyone visiting and working at Expo 2020 Dubai, and we continue to monitor the local and global situation, and we will adapt our measures to the latest UAE Government guidelines,” he added.
A PCR test and vaccination are not required
Visitor vaccination is encouraged, but Expo visitors are not required to provide proof of immunization or take a PCR test ahead of time. According to Cooling, the precautionary measures are in line with guidance from the Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap) and Dubai Health Authority (DHA), as well as the latest recommendations from the World Health Organisation. All Expo employees, including contractors, suppliers, volunteers, and pavilion participants, must be vaccinated.
No temperature scanning
During the Expo, Cooling said there would not be any temperature scanning of visitors. The DHA and Mohap have indicated that there will not be temperature screening of visitors entering the secure site.
The Expo site will offer rapid Covid testing
According to the official, they are setting up a comprehensive testing infrastructure on site, which will primarily be for the staff. The site will not offer PCR tests for visitors, but visitors will have access to specialized medical facilities, including rapid Covid testing. “We will continue to update our requirements and guidance for visitors as the situation changes,” he said.
Two-metre social distancing
Markings on the floor will ensure social distancing throughout the site, especially in areas where people are likely to congregate, as well as appropriate seating arrangements and queue design. We encourage pre-booking of tickets, online ticket purchases, and cashless retail and food and beverage purchases to control capacity and visitor flow.
Patrolling crowds with robots
Expo 2020 will rely on technology, such as robots and wearables, to assist with visitor-facing interactions, such as ticketing, queue management, crowd flow, and capacity and health monitoring. A total of 150 robots will be deployed to enhance the visitor experience, patrol the crowd, and enforce the rules. The range of technology on display on the site for crowd control will surprise visitors, he said.
Queuing system with smart queues
By allowing people to book online and reserve a time slot for their visit to a venue, Cooling said the system will reduce waiting times. “It’s like a fast pass at a theme park,” said Cooling. Visitors who wish to visit a country pavilion can reserve a time slot in advance. This is a very efficient way to manage crowds. Each visitor who purchases a ticket for Expo 2020 will receive one free Smart Queue pass to visit one of the participating pavilions, which can be selected via the official Expo 2020 Dubai website.
Dedicated isolation rooms have been set up around the Expo site for anyone who feels unwell. For an assessment, people will be directed to one of the rooms, which includes rapid Covid testing.
24/7 specialised aid centres
The Expo site will also have a dedicated emergency aid centre operated by the DHA. The site will also include isolation rooms, testing infrastructure, and a hospital.
Stations for sanitation
On-site measures include the installation of sanitization stations, with Dettol, Expo’s Official Hygiene Partner, supplying no-touch hand-sanitizer stations at all entrance and departure gates, pavilions, and restaurants. The use of face masks is mandatory and social distancing regulations are in place, along with increased deep cleaning.
Stations for ambulance
In addition to Covid’s preparedness, Cooling said the site has the world-class medical infrastructure, including a permanent ambulance station and roving paramedics.