SPIE begins hosting in person events: reconnecting the community safely
We have heard that many of you are eager to get together again and that a computer screen is not a true substitute for the in-person conference experience. Our experience organizing SPIE events has revealed countless examples of human connection, creative energy, and serendipitous discovery that Zoom windows cannot match. While the pace of recovery varies by country and province, we are optimistic and excited about the return to in-person events and a "new" normal in 2022.
As of 8 November 2021, the US Government is lifting travel restrictions for vaccinated travelers from outside the US. This is a welcome sign as we plan for our in person events and bringing the global photonics community together in 2022.
Over the past few months we have held Optics+Photonics in San Diego, California, Photonex+Vacuum Technologies in Glasgow, Scotland, and Optifab in Rochester, New York all in person. These events followed local, state, and national requirements for events of their size and were successfully held in a safe and comfortable manner. Almost universally we heard from attendees of their joy and the value in reconnecting face-to-face with the technical community. We were once again reminded of the excitement of conference rooms and exhibit halls and the energy of humans exchanging ideas and good will when meeting face to face.
We have since announced Photonics West, the largest North American conference and exhibition for the photonics community, will require proof of vaccination to attend. Following current government requirements, we will also require masks for everyone indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Negative covid tests do not fulfil the vaccine requirement, as per San Francisco regulations. These requirements are in line with recent adjustments to both California and San Francisco requirements for indoor events of more than 1000 people.
Please see our event homepages for the current status of individual events, including location-specific rules and recommendations. For example, Photonics West, Advanced Lithography and Patterning, Medical Imaging, and Defense + Commercial Sensing are all planned as in-person meetings with appropriate local, state, and national health requirements in place.
The safety of our attendees and staff comes first and we will continue to follow the guidance of public health professionals. We are actively tracking the guidance around the new Omicron variant. While it is too early to determine the impact of this latest variant, we will continue to monitor and adjust our plans and health protocols as necessary.
Our continued commitment to hold safe meetings is based on the following guidelines:
- SPIE will apply the most restrictive of the applicable national, state, local, or facility-specific rules or recommendations.
- As government rules change based on shifting conditions, SPIE policies for each event may be modified to conform to new rules applicable in each location. Therefore, rules published today by SPIE may change if local, state, or federal rules change prior to or during an event.
- We will keep all attendees aware of changes with enough notice for everyone to plan appropriately.
We expect that masks, vaccine requirements, low-touch interactions, appropriate physical distance, frequent handwashing, and other safe-meeting characteristics will become part of the event experience. We believe that the undeniable benefits of face-to-face interaction are worth the effort of this new normal.
As part of this commitment, all SPIE staff who travel on SPIE business and work at our events are fully vaccinated. Like you, we are contributing to a safe environment by taking care of ourselves and following guidelines.
Working together, we will have safe conferences that keep our community connected.