UK: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that conferences and exhibitions will be permitted to go ahead from 1 October 2020.
In an address from Downing Street today, Johnson said the final decision on conferences and exhibitions would depend on infection data and that local authorities would have powers to close events if there was a danger to the public. There will be a series of pilot events ahead of the reopening.
Jane Longhurst, chief executive of The Meetings Industry Association, said: “The impact of Covid-19 on the business meetings and events sector has been devastating so we are delighted with today’s announcement that we now have a timeframe to work to and recommence. It’s positive proof that the government has been listening to the sector and understands that we can open safely.
“We are currently awaiting the detail of the pilot events, but we do know they are to offer Public Health England the chance to test the industry’s ability to hold major events with large numbers of people. We also understand that the guidance, which we can expect any day, will include the news that Covid-secure venues can immediately open for events up to 30 people, which is a fantastic step forward,” she added.
Simon Hughes, chair of the Business Visits and Events Partnership, said: “After several months of lobbying, and providing significant amounts of evidence and research to government, and working closely in partnership with our colleagues at DCMS, we are delighted that today the prime minister has finally announced a go date of 1 October for the recommencement of business events and exhibitions, subject to the successful completion of some pilot events.”
“While this news will come as a great relief to the entire events industry, we are still conscious that the sector will require significant support going forward, as it looks to rebuild and renew, and we will continue to engage with government to look at practical ways to ensure that our world class industry continues to thrive and support the UK’s overall recovery over the years to come. We also look forward to working with DCMS to ensure a successful outcome of the pilot scheme, and will provide further updates to the industry as soon as we are able.
“Finally, we would like to thank the entire events industry for their patience, resilience and support that they have demonstrated over what has been an incredibly challenging few months, and we look forward to working together, with one voice, as we look towards the next stage of our recovery,” he added.
Lex Butler, chair of the Hotel Booking Agents Association [HBAA], said: “At long last, finally we have a date to work to and the uncertainty is over, after all the hard work in lobbying and making preparations to ensure the safety of delegates and staff. It’s great news, but we’re reserving our celebrations until we see the small print.”
The announcement gives the green light to IHM’s inaugural Urban Living Festival, which will be taking place at Tobacco Dock in London on 26-27 November. Click here to find out more.