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Yannis Apostolopoulos: «The Specialty Coffee Expo in Portland is in a legal limbo»

Yannis Apostolopoulos
Yannis Apostolopoulos, Chief Executive Officer of the Specialty Coffee Association

MILAN – The fate of the Specialty Coffee Expo and the 2020 Re:co Symposium remain uncertain in face of the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic. Despite recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that all mass events scheduled for the next eight weeks be canceled, the state of Oregon yesterday reiterated orders that cancel events only until April 14, leaving the SCA and thier business partners in the city of Portland in legal limbo.

Last night, the SCA released a short video message and statement from the CEO Yannis Apostolopoulos to give the community an update on the status of the two events, scheduled for April 23-26 and 22-23 respectively.

Here is the video message from Yannis Apostolopoulos; below you can  read the transcription of the video

Hello members of the specialty coffee community around the world. My name is Yannis Apostolopoulos, and I am the Chief Executive Officer of the SCA. I am writing this message (and recording the short video above) on March 16 from my home in Irvine, in the state of California, where I currently live with my wife, my two children, and my in-laws. We, like you and people all over the world, are deeply concerned about the outbreak of the coronavirus, and we are worried about our health and the health of our loved ones.

I’ve been keeping up with many of your posts on social media. I see how many of you, specialty coffee professionals everywhere, are finding yourselves in really difficult situations where your health and safety, and your jobs, your staff, your businesses, are heavily impacted by this virus.

We have also been keeping up with your many social media posts and emails with questions about the status of our upcoming events.

I know many of you have questions — maybe you’ve wondered why we haven’t simply canceled the events, or you’re wondering why we haven’t been more forthcoming.

I want to take this opportunity to give you as much information as legally possible

This statement won’t answer every question you have, but it will hopefully give you some insight into the discussions we at the SCA have been having internally and with all of our partners in Portland for many weeks.

I want to assure all of our members, exhibitors, and attendees, that the SCA will do everything we can to protect the health and safety of our attendees and the investments you’ve made into participating at Re:co and Expo.

We continue our conversations with our partners at the Oregon Convention Center and Travel Portland to review options for postponing Re:co Symposium and the Specialty Coffee Expo

Yesterday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that all events with 50 or more people scheduled for the next eight weeks should be postponed. This recommendation from the CDC may provide the legal basis that we and the many businesses we work with need to postpone the events with the least legal exposure to everyone involved.

However, despite the CDC’s recommendations, the State of Oregon has issued orders that only cancel events until April 14, which would leave the SCA, the convention center, our exhibitors, hotels, and the dozens of other businesses who make Specialty Coffee Expo possible every year in legal limbo with contradictory directions from the federal and state governments.

Given our contractual obligations to the venue and our business partners in the city of Portland, if the SCA were to cancel the Expo event on our own, without a clear government directive that applies to all of the circumstances of the event, there may be serious legal consequences for our nonprofit organization.

We are going to do everything we can to protect the health and safety of our attendees, and the investments you’ve made into participating at Expo, like many of you have done for many years.

At this moment, while we continue to work out the details, we’re asking all of our members, exhibitors, and visitors who have invested in the show to please continue to support us as we work to review our options to postpone this event.

Thank you so much for your continued support and patience. We hope to have updates for you as soon as possible via email, social media, and here on our website at sca.coffee/covid19.

Yannis Apostolopoulos
Chief Executive Officer
Specialty Coffee Association