Bans on large gatherings around the world due to Coronavirus continue to impact ham radio events. The organizers of HAM RADIO Friedrichshafen, Europe's largest hamfest, have cancelled this year's show due to a ban by the German government on major events extending at least through August 31. The Friedrichshafen hamfest had been scheduled for late June.
In addition, the first Youth on the Air (YOTA) camp scheduled for the western hemisphere has been delayed until 2021. The weeklong gathering for young hams had been planned for late June at the Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting outside Cincinnati, Ohio. The in-person camp will be rescheduled for July of 2021. Meanwhile, organizers are working on possible activities that might be able to be conducted remotely this summer, from participants' homes.
Organizers of the Dayton Hamvention previously announced its cancellation for this year. The Tokyo Ham Fair was previously rescheduled until August due to conflicts with the now-postponed Summer Olympics in Tokyo. As of now, that August date is holding for Asia's largest hamfest.
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COVID-19 Prompts Dawn of Virtual License Exams
On March 26, the W5YI-VEC coordinated the first-ever fully remote exam for an FCC amateur license, with the candidate, examiners and proctor all online from different locations. According to Newsline, this pilot session may open the door for additional virtual exam sessions in the future.
The ARRL VEC is leaving it up to individual volunteer examiner teams to decide whether to hold exam sessions, based on local restrictions and the expected number of candidates. ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, told the ARRL Letter that she expects the numbers for new licensees to drop in March and April due to the reduced number of exam sessions.
Closures, Cancellations and Postponements
The 2020 ARRL/TAPR Digital Communications Conference (DCC) will be held online as a virtual conference on its originally-scheduled dates of September 11-13 (details to follow). Organizers plan to hold the 2021 conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, which was to be the site of the 2020 event.
At this writing, the Friedrichshafen hamfest in Germany was still on track for late June; and the Tokyo Ham Fair was sticking to its temporary dates of October 31-November 1. The Japanese show had been previously rescheduled due to the Tokyo Olympic Games, which have themselves now been delayed until 2021.
Several amateur radio-related businesses and organizations have closed their offices as of late March, including CQ, the ARRL and AMSAT, in accordance with state restrictions on "non-essential" businesses. Ham retailers have various restrictions in place, depending on location. Some are allowing limited number of people into their stores, while others are doing mail-order and curbside pickup only. Check with your favorite dealer for specifics.
Many DXpeditions have also been postponed or cancelled. See News Bytes and the DX column in May CQ for details.
Field Day: ARRL Declines to Set Nationwide Standard
Field Day is still on as of this writing, and the ARRL is leaving decisions on operations up to individuals and clubs, based on public health advice and restrictions that may still be in place by late June. The League is recommending that clubs be flexible, and is encouraging operation from home stations on emergency power or backyard portable operations with temporary antennas.
In Europe and Africa, Region 1 of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) is not holding its annual region-wide Field Day event in June, and is discouraging multi-operator contests and other group activities. However, it is leaving it up to its member societies to decide whether to hold national Field Day events.
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