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CEO DATELINE – Health club group moves conference to Dallas, citing COVID-19 restrictions in Los Angeles

April 23, 2021
By Kathryn Walson

The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association announced April 20 that it has changed the date and location of its annual conference in response to pandemic-related restrictions.

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The IHRSA International Convention & Trade Show usually happens in March but was postponed to September in Los Angeles. It has now been rescheduled for Oct. 13-15 and will take place in Dallas for the first time in more the 30 years, IHRSA said in a statement. The show will be held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

“Because of the current COVID-19 restrictions in Los Angeles County, hosting IHRSA 2021 in Los Angeles this September as previously planned is too uncertain,” Brent Darden, interim president and CEO of the Boston-based group, said in the statement.

“The IHRSA board of directors, Industry Partner Advisory Council and IHRSA staff unanimously agreed that moving the convention to Dallas was the best path forward for our industry and attendees,” Darden said.

Show attendees include presidents, CEOs and senior executives of some of the largest health club groups in the world, as well as thousands of independent health club operators, according to IHRSA’s website.

Alan Leach, CEO of the West Wood Clubs in Dublin and chair-elect of IHRSA’s board, said the later date allows “a few more crucial weeks for those who may need the extra time to get the vaccine or appropriate approvals in order to travel.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced March 2 he was lifting the statewide mask mandate and “opening Texas 100%.” Texas currently has no travel restrictions or quarantine requirements for travelers entering the state.

California, on the other hand, discourages non-essential travel from other states or countries. Travelers who are not fully vaccinated must quarantine for seven days if they have a negative COVID-19 test after arriving in the state—10 days if they do not get tested. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in April that the state plans to fully reopen its economy by June 15 if certain conditions are met.

The United Fresh Produce Association also announced it would “reimagine” its trade show that had been planned for Los Angeles in June. Instead, United Fresh will hold a series of smaller in-person regional events, along with online education and networking.