Enterprise Expo on, however with warning

With all of the tools at their disposal to fight Covid and expecting attendees to use their common sense, Pine Bluff Regional Chamber of Commerce officials are planning plans for next week’s annual Business Expo.

Jennifer Kline, the chamber’s events and marketing manager, said staff had been keeping a vigilant eye on the Covid situation and, after careful consideration, deemed it appropriate to hold the event.

“We have been dealing with this for a long time,” she said on Thursday. “We want to balance the needs of our companies that have to function in order to be successful,” she said. “But of course we want to protect everyone. And we believe we can hold the event and protect everyone out there.”

Arkansas is seeing an increase in Covid-19 cases, with much of the increase being due to the Delta variant, which is more transmissible and can be more severe than the original strain of coronavirus. Several school districts in the region and across the state recently announced that they will be required to wear masks to start school from next week. The Chamber does a similar thing.

In a list of measures the Chamber is taking to ensure safety at the Expo, the first point concerns face coverings.

“Masks are needed at all times in the Convention Center,” the statement said. “If you don’t do it, you will be asked to go.”

Anyone entering the Pine Bluff Convention Center, where the event is to take place, will also be checked for temperature and there are several disinfection stations in the expo area.

“We have hired ushers to help with all Expo-related events,” said Kline.

And since the public has been inundated with Covid-related recommendations for more than a year, Kline hopes attendees act accordingly.

“In all honesty, we’re just asking people to use their common sense,” she said. “We want them to keep their distance and be courteous and we hope that courtesy will be used throughout the event.”

Currently, 76 providers are being set up in the exhibition area and 360 tickets are being sold for breakfast in the morning with around 31 table sponsors. Breakfast is sponsored by Simmons Bank.

Kline pointed out that during the expo, the convention center sound reinforcement will be used throughout the day to remind people to keep their masks off, social distance, and wash hands. She also said curtains would separate the stalls to add another layer of protection.

“We limit exposure as much as possible,” said Kline. “We will stay up to date on all requirements.”

One aspect of the event that Kline is particularly happy about is the presence of the doctor’s order pharmacy, which will be set up in the Expo-Arena and will carry out Covid vaccinations on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“We know the best way to fight the coronavirus is to get people vaccinated,” said Kline. “We’ll have the opportunity to do just that.

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