Alaska seafood processor Peter Pan Seafood is pulling out of the March Seafood Expo North America (SENA) trade show in Boston due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the nation, the company said Tuesday.
The move is a turnabout from the company's plans in late 2021, when Peter Pan committed to returning to trade shows and in-person events.
With the omicron variant fueling increasing COVID-19 case counts, however, the company said it will not to attend this year’s event.
“With COVID-19 cases rising, we agree that it is irresponsible to attend the seafood show in Boston this year,” said Rodger May, the company's co-owner and chief growth officer.
“This is not an easy decision, and it’s one we’ll lose money on — having already made meaningful investments to be at this year’s event, while rolling out our new look and brand."
Cases of COVID-19 have spiked with the rapid transmission of what's known as the omicron variant.
According to the latest statistics from Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts is among the states with the sharpest spike in cases over the past week, with a 48 percent increase in reported cases.
"Attending this show, while it would be good for business, is not worth putting our employees, partners or loved ones at risk," May added.
Peter Pan has put stringent COVID-19 mitigation measures in place, including requiring employee vaccinations and masks inside all facilities and mess halls.
The company is operating all processing facilities as closed campuses, which means once employees, whether they are local or from out of state, arrive on campus they can only leave for emergencies.
This is the first public announcement of a company canceling its participation in this year's SENA event, which is slated to take place from March 13-15.
The show was postponed and ultimately canceled shortly after a growing numbers of companies opted out of the event in 2020, just as the COVID-19 virus first began to take hold. Other trade shows followed suit, and virtually all major in-person events in the sector have been canceled over the past two years.
Trade show season is here
The start of the trade show and conference season – which has effectively been dormant for the past two years of the pandemic – has begun.
In less than one week, the National Fisheries Institute’s (NFI) Global Seafood Market Conference (GSMC) will get underway in Orlando, Florida.
Like Massachusetts, COVID-19 cases in Florida have spiked, with a doubling of cases in the past week alone, according to Johns Hopkins data.
Diversified recently announced that in-line with new guidance from the city of Boston that take effect Jan. 15, it will require individuals to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 in order to enter certain indoor spaces in the city, including convention centers and exhibition halls.
Last week, NFI sent a list of health and safety guidelines to those planning to attend GSMC beginning Jan. 18.
The guidelines say attendees will need to show proof of vaccination or have had a negative COVID test with 72 hours prior to attending the event. NFI staff will verify this information at the time of registration, the group said.
NFI will also make two rapid COVID test kits available to each attendee, and it is encouraging attendees to wear masks indoors.