FORUM & INFOFLEX 2020 have been cancelled after Ohio’s Governor banned mass gatherings.

Latest Update

March 23: Virtual FORUM 2020 Announced

FTA has announced Virtual FORUM 2020, an online replacement for this year’s in-person conference, where content previously planned for the event will be broadcast live in a webinar format utilizing FTA’s Zoom Meeting platform.

FTA members receive complimentary registration for the three-day event; non-member registration is $200.

Each day of Virtual FORUM 2020 will feature a pair of technical sessions spread between the morning and afternoon. The schedule of sessions is as follows (all times ET):

Wednesday, April 22:

Wednesday, April 29:

Wednesday, May 6:

The three remaining sessions from FORUM 2020 will take place later this year at Fall Conference 2020:

Previous Updates

March 13: FORUM & INFOFLEX 2020 Cancelled After Ohio Governor Bans Mass Gatherings

Flexographic Technical Association is announcing the cancellation of FORUM & INFOFLEX 2020, due to the continued rapid spread of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

As the FTA Board of Directors, FFTA Board of Trustees and management team have been methodically reviewing updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and multiple authorities in Columbus and the state of Ohio, in the end, one need remained at our forefront: the obligation to protect the health and safety of the FTA membership.

In recent days, a number of significant changes have made cancellation of these events unavoidable. Yesterday, the Governor of Ohio issued an executive order banning all mass gatherings of 100 or more people throughout the state. Although at the time of the announcement, there were no confirmed cases in the Columbus area and only five throughout the state of Ohio, the ban was executed out of an abundance of caution. There was no time frame assigned to the ban, therefore the decision was immediately made by management to recommend cancellation to the FTA and FFTA Boards, which they approved.

As the situation escalated very rapidly over the March 10-12 time frame throughout the country, there has been little chance to prepare cancellation policy details for those of you who have registered to attend, purchased a booth at INFOFLEX or invested in one of the sponsorship programs. I respectfully ask that you allow the FTA management team a brief period of time, giving us the opportunity to get together and develop a path forward on handling the situation. I assure you that it is our intention to be fair to everyone.

Please also know that the content that is in the process of being developed for the FORUM program WILL be delivered to the membership in one form or another. We have some ideas that we will be cultivating with Hank Welter, FORUM chair, and Ellen Farrell and Kim Madigan, co-chairs, and all of the session leaders. Two primary delivery mechanisms in the front of our minds are incorporating some content within the Fall Conference 2020 program and delivering the presentations via Zoom Meeting (similar to our monthly Membernar program).

Many of the other announcements and presentations that take place at FORUM—the Excellence in Flexography Award winners, FTA Hall of Fame inductee, Flexography Scholarship recipients, President’s Award recipients, Sustainability Excellence Award winners, the Phoenix Challenge College Competition winners, Technical Innovation Award winners, etc.—also WILL be made in one form or another. So, stay tuned for more information on this as we get into the month of April.

Thank you for your understanding in these extremely difficult times and for your patience as we work through all of the details referenced above. I will certainly miss seeing everyone in Columbus this year, but that feeling is absolutely secondary to my desire to ensure that everyone in the FTA community does everything possible to remain safe and healthy as we all endure these times together.

Wishing you and your family health and well-being.

Mark Cisternino
President
Flexographic Technical Association

March 10: Updated statement from Experience Columbus

March 5: Statement on FORUM & INFOFLEX 2020 and COVID-19

The Flexographic Technical Association (FTA) FORUM & INFOFLEX are scheduled to take place, as planned, April 19-22 in Columbus, OH.

FTA is continuing to monitor developments related to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak and its potential impact on travel to this event. At present, the Greater Columbus Convention Center and our partner meeting hotels are all operating normally. In fact, our contracted meeting planner was in Columbus on March 4 and reported to me that the hospitality industry there is very prepared and vigilant of all that needs to be done on an ongoing basis in order to ensure visitor safety. Any changes to operating status will be communicated immediately to all registered meeting attendees and posted here, on the FTA website.

In preparation for FORUM & INFOFLEX, FTA will:

  • Follow recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the policies of the local government and city officials;
  • Ensure that onsite First Aid personnel are adequately trained and capable of assessing and assisting those that may demonstrate flu-like symptoms;
  • Identify local emergency care facilities that will be able to promptly care for attendees who may require treatment;
  • Work with Columbus officials to establish procedures to handle any COVID-19 related incidents that occur at the meeting; and
  • Develop a mechanism and protocol to alert FTA onsite staff and meeting attendees in case of an incident.

FTA is planning to implement additional onsite tools for registrants, exhibitors and onsite personnel, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Increased availability of hand sanitizing stations;
  • Increased cleaning and disinfection process across all high-volume touchpoints (catering areas, surfaces, handrails, restrooms, entrances/exits, touch screens, etc.) along with the use of cleaning/sanitizing materials and products;
  • Awareness campaign of sanitizing efforts via online and onsite information and signage;
  • Availability of sanitizing and disinfection materials for public use;
  • Create an environment to promote a ‘touch-free’ exhibition and conference:
  • Exhibitors: Utilize the available lead retrieval system for gathering leads electronically; and
  • Attendees: Utilize available technologies like the FORUM & INFOFLEX event app or other available services to share contact information.

At this time, by all accounts, the risk is low and there is no change to how FTA serves our members. However, we also recognize that this is an evolving situation, so we will be monitoring daily reports from the CDC and provide members with regular updates.

The FTA management team is meeting on a regular basis to review plans and we are committed to providing our entire attending membership with a safe environment. Also, as president and member of the FTA Board of Directors and FFTA Board of Trustees, I assure you that constant ongoing communications with these governing bodies will allow for making and executing informed decisions.

FTA is being proactive in seeking out and gaining access to resources for our members related to the Coronavirus, demonstrating that we are a credible source for relevant and meaningful information on issues impacting our membership.

At this time, FORUM and INFOFLEX are a go. The Federal Government has not suggested limiting domestic travel, or imposing restrictions on international inbound travel beyond those already in place. We are communicating with our international members and stressing the importance that, if they are from a zone which is in close proximity to an outbreak area, FTA strongly suggests that, in an abundance of caution, they refrain from attending this year’s event. We are also encouraging any member who is not feeling healthy to not attend so that they don’t endanger other attendees.

Following is an updated statement provided on March 10 to FTA by “Experience Columbus,” the convention and visitors bureau from the city:

Is Columbus canceling events because of coronavirus?

Meetings and conventions are important to the Columbus community, and as travel continues to be encouraged, we are aware of the hesitation people may have in regards to Coronavirus. The health and safety of Columbus visitors and convention attendees is of the upmost importance to Experience Columbus, and we are closely monitoring the situation in conjunction with local, regional and national health organizations. As of right now, there are no known cases of Coronavirus in Columbus, though there are three confirmed cases in Cuyahoga county, about two hours away.

The situation is evolving rapidly and we are working hand-in-hand with Columbus Public Health to understand how to best assess and advise events on coronavirus safety moving forward. We are adhering to all the current recommendations provided by the WHO, CDC, city, county and state health officials as well as industry organizations such as U.S. Travel, Destinations International, ASAE and PCMA. The CDC has released guidelines for handling mass gatherings in the context of the Coronavirus and advises that event cancellation discussions be taken on a case-by-case basis based on the size of the event, host facility and public health department. We are also in constant contact with our partners at the Ohio Hotel and Lodging Association, Ohio Restaurant Association, John Glenn Columbus International Airport, Greater Columbus Convention Center and our more than 1,000 partner businesses within the community to communicate proper safety protocols are put in place to prevent the spread of illness.

What does it mean that Governor DeWine declared a State of Emergency?

By declaring a State of Emergency, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has ensured that the state is able to receive federal funding to help combat coronavirus, and remove some of the bureaucratic red tape in order to allow faster treatment of those who test positive. This does not put restrictions on events or gatherings.

How can I keep myself, my colleagues and my customers safe?

The CDC does not recommend any additional precautions for the general public at this time beyond taking the usual steps that help to prevent the spread of illness and the flu, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Consider adding signage on proper hand-washing and additional hand-sanitizing stations to your facility.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with your arm or a tissue (then throwing the tissue away and washing your hands). Consider making tissues readily available and ensure ample waste baskets for proper disposal.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick and stay home when you are sick. Reinforce that sick employees should stay home when sick.

Where can I get more information?

For more information and to track progress of coronavirus, please visit:

FTA recommends that you prepare with prudence and common sense. If you have any questions in this regard, please feel free to contact me directly. I look forward to seeing you at our upcoming FORUM & INFOFLEX.
Best Regards,

Mark Cisternino
President
Flexographic Technical Association

“This is the time for facts, not fear. This is the time for science, not rumors.
This is the time for solidarity, not stigma. We are all in this together.”
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,
Director-General of the World Health Organization