Dhe World Economic Forum (WEF) has been taking place for 50 years. During this time, the global elites from business and politics did not meet in the Swiss mountain town of Davos only once: in 2002, as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and because of concerns about counter-demonstrations, the event was moved to New York.
But now the WEF could run away from Switzerland one more time. Because of the corona pandemic, the WEF founder Klaus Schwab had postponed the next rendezvous for the heads of management and government, which always takes place in the second half of January, by four months.
The conference was to take place with a reduced number of participants and with virtual components from May 17th to 21st on the Bürgenstock near Lucerne. On this ridge above Lake Lucerne there is a brand new ensemble of luxury hotels that can be easily sealed off.
Classified as a risk area
But now this event is on the brink: Switzerland is basically set as the place of execution, but only “as long as the Corona situation allows it,” Schwab told the newspaper “Switzerland on the weekend”. Unfortunately, the situation in this regard is currently difficult, he added.
In fact, the relative numbers of infections and deaths in the Swiss Confederation are significantly higher than in many other European countries. From the perspective of the German federal government, Switzerland is a risk area. Anyone entering from there must go into quarantine in Germany.
With the high number of cases, Switzerland pays the price for the casual handling of the pandemic in the summer, when the cantons outbid each other with relaxation exercises and at the same time failed to significantly expand the test capacities.
Entrepreneurs under pressure to act
Because the spaces in some intensive care units have become tight, several cantonal governments have now tightened the reins, which has recently led to a falling number of new infections. But in the absence of strict national measures – restaurants, for example, are allowed to remain open – there is a certain risk of setbacks due to the small size of Switzerland and the high mobility of its citizens.
Virologists are also skeptical of the government’s plans to keep the ski resorts open over Christmas and New Year’s Eve for economic reasons. The virus situation in Switzerland has of course not gone unnoticed by the WEF’s “strategic partners”, who shell out a lot of money for their participation in the meeting.
Entrepreneurs or CEOs who send their own employees to work from home as a precaution cannot afford to make the headlines as a participant in a possible superspreader event. Schwab is also worried about it: A superspreader incident could have consequences for the WEF, from which the organization would no longer recover, he said. It depends on the further course of the pandemic whether the forum can be held in Switzerland: “We are constantly monitoring the situation and will make a definitive decision as soon as possible.”
In fact, at the moment everything speaks in favor of moving the conference to another country in 2021. According to the FAZ, the WEF is already intensively looking for a suitable replacement location.
The focus is on Asia, where the corona situation is now much more relaxed compared to Europe and America. Singapore is likely to be one of the shortlisted candidates. The city-state is easy to reach from all over the world and, thanks to the authoritarian leadership, can be properly “locked”. Due to the necessary planning lead time, the location decision should be made before Christmas.
Around 3000 guests recently came to the WEF in Davos. Schwab is planning a maximum of 1200 participants for the round next year.