We have put together a number of commonly asked questions below. Please note that we are answering to the best of the current knowledge and our understanding. If you’d like to add questions, please leave a comment below.
Update: Current Status (Summary)
At this point in time, we kindly ask everyone to focus on handling the current challenges around you. Please support your community, neighbors, and friends in these crucial weeks so we all can return to a normal state as soon as possible, and minimize risks for health and economy as much as is feasible. This should be the top priority. It is ours.
Rest assured there is no need to be worried about paid delegate fees: should the conference be cancelled, you are entitled to full refunds. This conference is backed by the organizers’ full personal liability so there is positively no need for you to be concerned.
To minimize your risk in respect to other expenses such as travel and hotel, please see our recommendations below.
As some may know, I am originally a M.D. and as such, I am currently reactivated to prepare to help conduct Corona testing which illustrates that it is important at this point in time for everyone to focus on the immediate needs and be helpful where you and your capabilities can make a difference. Look after elderly or handicapped, leave some toilet paper to others, and otherwise stay at home if you can and go to work if it is necessary. Act responsibly, and don’t confuse or scare others with wild speculation. Simple little things that help us all get over this in the most reasonable and square way.
Of course, in parallel we continue to work on adjustment options for psconf.eu and are in close contact with iStream, sponsors, and other partners to evaluate good options for June. There is no benefit for anyone from rushing into decisions about the if’s and how’s of psconf.eu now.
We’ll update this page as new information becomes available, and thank you all for your understanding and patience. Please stay healthy, and do stick to social distancing at this time.
Everyone is investing tremendous effort in slowing down the spread, and this investment is lost when only a few don’t take it seriously and let Corona spread. Keep in mind that reported infection numbers are always representing the situation from 10 days ago as it takes time for symptoms to become evident, and especially the young can be infectious without feeling sick at all. Everyone can help make these huge investments work or fail. Just do the math:
Being careless now jeopardizes the entire effort next week. Stay at home if you can until the spread is stopped. Numbers from countries like China, Italy, South Korea all show the same patterns and responses to actions such as social distancing. There is no reason to assume Corona chooses to behave differently in different areas of the world. We all can benefit from these findings and use time wisely. Denial is not smart.
We are all looking forward to meeting you when it is safe.
What happens if psconf.eu in June needs to be cancelled?
Should the event be cancelled, all delegate fees will be reimbursed. Expenses beyond the delegate fee (i.e. travel, hotel) are not covered.
That’s why we suggest that you book hotels and flights that can be cancelled free of charge on short term. Most hotels and many airlines offer free cancellation when you book now. You may even consider cancelling existing bookings and re-book with the new cancellation policies in place, just to be safe.
How likely is that?
While numbers from China seem to be declining now after 8 weeks, the situation in Italy and now other parts of Europe and the world are disturbing. There are many conflicting models and studies, so the only thing that is safe to say at this point is that it is wise to slow down spread now by trying to reduce social contacts. Cancelling and postponing events is part of this.
We’ll yet have to see how extensive this period of social distancing needs to be, and government recommendations rarely go beyond a month.
When do we know for sure?
Safety is our primary concern, and we want psconf.eu to be a great place for everyone. This is why we are closely monitoring the situation and developing various fallback scenarios should they be necessary.
In order for everyone to plan ahead and travel safely, we decide up to six weeks before the start of the conference whether or not we should alter the plan already well under way, based on whether the situation has improved considerably by then or not. Bear in mind that government bodies can still have an impact on the conference beyond our control.
Why are events cancelled?
Corona does not seem to be especially dangerous for the vast majority of people, causing mild symptoms or none at all for most. However, it can be life-threatening for elderly and those already suffering from other health issues.
An Italian study examining 105 deceased patients reported all victims to be older than 70 years with an average of 81 years and 2/3 suffering from 3+ co-diseases. An excellent and constantly updated (swiss) article summarizes the current knowledge we have about Corona.
Numbers indicate that lethality rates vary tremendously, from 0.3% in Germany over 0.7% in mainland China (excluding Wuhan) and South Korea up to concerning 7% in parts of Italy.
Apparently, one important factor seems to be availability of adequate medical treatment and ventilators, so the top priority in this phase of the pandemic is to protect the vulnerable by helping to slow down spread and as a consequence ensuring that our health systems are not overwhelmed.
Restricting social contacts is one of the strategies to slow down spread, and part of this is cancelling or postponing events right now.
What are psconf.eu organizers are looking at?
We are looking at travel restrictions and other temporary measures put into effect by authorities and companies that affect you, our delegates and speakers.
We are looking at ways for speakers and delegates that cannot travel to participate virtually, or turning the entire conference into a virtual event.
We are looking at alternate time slots should the need arise to postpone the event.
We are looking at everything important that affects your experience as a delegate or speaker, and our responsibility as organizers, and draw conclusions six weeks prior to the planned opening.
In essence we are looking at ways to ensure sustainability of this conference over the years to come beyond the impact of this crisis and follow all guidelines to act responsibly while at the same time not rushing decisions. At this time, there is no authority that can reliably predict how the situation will change over the next 4 to 8 weeks, let alone what it will be in June, more than two months from now.
Bear in mind that psconf.eu is a community effort without profit intention and carried by many volunteers. Cancelling or postponing this event without adequate evaluation of the situation and the impact is also placing us in legal and financial jeopardy, risking extensive damage without substantial benefits over a more calculated approach. For now, we are waiting a few more weeks while proactively monitoring and analyzing facts that are only emerging.
There are various models and predictions, and while Corona/COVID-19 could paralyze social life in many countries for the remainder of this year, it is also possible that the onset of spring in the upcoming weeks has a significantly positive effect. We will soon know.
If you are worried about your travel arrangements and deadlines, please refer to our recommendations: many hotels and carriers offer flexible and free cancellations for new bookings so you might want to re-book arrangements with these new conditions and minimize your risk.
And let’s not forget: there are good and encouraging news, too: Michael Greene just announced he is joining us in June provided he’s not banned from travel, and Stuart Preston plans to be with us as well. In the light of a crisis like this, it is amazing to see who is willing to help and volunteer. Rinon Belegu from Switzerland provides us with extra stocks of hand sanitizer, our sponsors stick with us, and we are taking the risks necessary (just went ahead and ordered our conference mugs). Let’s be reasonable and professional and be prepared to do what it takes. If all else fails, we might all meet virtually or postpone the event to next year. That’s all not a top priority right now as we currently should focus on effective social distancing and helping others around us that are currently struggling with health or economic challenges.
(if we do need to cancel the event in the end we won’t need to turn on the dishwasher to clean mugs for a very long time as we already ordered 400 mugs ;-)).