Business events, conferences and events centres will be given the go ahead to reopen on 1 October adhering to social distancing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced today.
Provided levels of infection remain at current rates, this will see the return of the sector worth approximately £32.6 billion to the UK each year.
The sector represented a quarter of the 38 million international visits to the UK in 2018 and provides a welcome boost to visitor numbers during the off peak tourist season.
Following the announcement today, a number of pilots will take place at event venues across the country to plan for a return to large-scale events and test how best to implement social distancing practises. Details of these pilots will be finalised in partnership with the sector in the coming weeks.
New guidance, published by the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport and the Association of Event Organisers today, will help event organisers, venue operators and participants in England understand how they can work and host business events and conferences and keep both their guests and staff safe.
It is worth noting that this guidance does not cover organisations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who should adhere to the advice of the devolved administrations, which for all three is no change on the ban of these kind of events.
Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston said: Business events and conferences are a key part of our visitor economy and this is an important step in getting them back up and running safely.
Pilots will help inform our plans for the return of the sector in October with guests and staff adhering to social distancing and measures introduced to reduce close contact.
The UK has a great reputation in staging fantastic events that help drive growth for many different sectors and this will give the business event sector the certainty it needs to plan for the future.
The guidance makes clear that the following measures should be considered to allow for safe resumption of business events and conferences:
- Attendees will need to pre-book and pre-register to attend events
- Contactless registration systems will be introduced at venues to reduce waiting times and limit contact between organisers and guests
- A digital first approach will be adopted to eliminate the need for physical badges and lanyards
- Paper handouts and gifts will no longer be offered
- Entrance to event or conference spaces will be staggered to reduce queuing and overall capacity will be limited to ensure social distancing can be maintained
- Events will be planned around one way systems for visitors
- Spaces between exhibition booths will be increased and aisles widened to achieve social distancing requirements
- All venues will also have enhanced cleaning procedures, with hand washing and sanitising facilities at frequent intervals