Dear US/ICOMOS Community,
US/ICOMOS will consider how the pandemic will likely alter the programs, activities, and operation of the organization in 2020 over the next two weeks. This time frame is related to the trajectory that the spread of COVID-19 will take during that period. We must determine as quickly as possible the feasibility of activities throughout 2020 that involve large gatherings or international travel. The Celebration of World Heritage scheduled for June 18, 2020, has been postponed indefinitely at this time.
I attach here a document prepared by our sister national committee in China, Urban Function-Spatial Response Strategy for the Epidemic: ICOMOS CHINA COVID19 Response. I cannot vouch for its absolute veracity, of course, but what you will see in it might be of some interest and utility to us as we plan, coming as it does from ground zero. I also know and respect some of the people who produced this document; the team leader was Prof. Dong Wei, Planner and Architect, School of Architecture, UNESCO Chair in Cultural Resource Management, and Richard Engelhardt, who was UNESCO Regional Advisor for Culture in Asia and the Pacific for many years, acted as a consultant.
Correspondence with professors from US universities who are now teaching in China also suggests to me that travel among regions might well become difficult in the U.S. and restrictions on group activities will be necessary for some time. One person I know who is teaching in China has been in quarantine for six weeks as of now. Travel restrictions are draconian, and great emphasis has been placed on controlling travel between regions; to his knowledge, moving from one region to another requires a 14-day quarantine.
This suggests to me that to maintain the network of advocacy for World Heritage that we have begun to build we will have to get much better at employing digital media for that purpose. We find ourselves in a strange, new world, but of course we can develop new ways to adapt to it. As the Executive Committee and committee chairs explore these ways, we will keep you all informed.
Douglas C. Comer, Ph.D.