Well folks, here we are.
Only four weeks away from what looked to be the biggest EFPSA event in its 34-year history. Over 500 excited psychology students, alongside world-class speakers, were set to attend our Congress and use this as a platform for psychology as a science to grow. Congress aimed to allow participants to take a giant leap in their personal and professional development. But…
It is truly with a heavy heart, frustration, and deep sadness, that we must inform you that the 34th EFPSA Congress 2020 is postponed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. To be clear, the Congress will not take place during the 9th-16th April 2020 as planned. We are aware we have been silent for the last couple of days. We have found ourselves in an unchartered situation and wanted to make sure we explored all possible options. As you can imagine, this could not be described as an “easy decision.” To shed some light on our rationale, this week the Irish government issued a statement calling for the closing of all academic institutions and schools, in addition to a countrywide ban on all “indoor gatherings of over 100 people and outdoor gatherings of over 500 people” (https://www.rte.ie/news/coronavirus/2020/0312/1121820-coronavirus/).
For now, these measures are in place until 29th March 2020. The forecast of this global crisis that we are experiencing clearly indicates that it is extremely unlikely these two weeks will bring a solution that will enable our Congress to take place as planned. We expect to face rather difficult times. Furthermore, countries around Europe and overseas are gradually moving into the mitigation phase and are putting more severe measures in place such as travel restrictions and complete country lockdown. Some airlines are cancelling flights to Ireland. Additionally, most of the businesses, universities and organisations we have been working with over the last two years have been forced to reduce their services or cease operations altogether for the foreseeable future.
Taking all of the above into consideration, together with EFPSA’s mission, vision, and values; and our personal responsibility to our speakers, sponsors, participants (indeed also their friends and families), it would be absolutely reckless to run an event of this size and possibly contribute to the spread of the virus. We are in continuous communication with the EFPSA Board of Management regarding the situation.
For the last two years, we have put every ounce of energy into this event. It has been at the forefront of each of our minds and we are certain that you can appreciate that this decision is not one we are happy with or ever predicted. We are devastated. At the same time, we are well aware of the time and resources that you have put into this, and we are extremely grateful. The unwavering support and encouragement that we have been receiving throughout the organisational process, continued to motivate us to ensure we would deliver the best possible Congress experience for you.
At this point, we are doing what we can to reduce the impact the postponement of this event will have on you. Many airlines have offered refunds on flights which you might be able to avail of, and if you have travel insurance or purchased your flights through a credit card please be sure to enquire about possible refunds through these companies. We expect many emails from you and will do our absolute best to stay on top of them, but we ask that you please have patience and understanding for us.
This has been a particularly difficult weekend, however, we wish to say a massive thank you to Wilson Bird, Maggie Ruane, and Una Kilbane from Breaffy House Resort. They have been fantastic to work alongside and we could not have asked for a better team to work with throughout this scenario. We look forward to this relationship continuing when circumstances improve.
To conclude, it is important to reiterate that each of us has a duty to the public. Whilst we might not be frontline healthcare professionals, we are in the field of healthcare nonetheless. We say again that it is likely there will be more difficult days ahead. We each have a responsibility to one another. As psychologists, we all have the capacity to act with empathy, compassion, and resilience in the face of adversity in order to support our colleagues, friends, and families. This is not a call to be heroes. Rather, it is a call to not act recklessly and not take this lightly. Let’s make use of our personal and professional strengths to support and protect each person in our communities – especially the vulnerable.
With less hugs and more elbow bumps,
Dean, Jayne, Mirna, Laura, Benny & Liam