As we continue to work closely with our colleagues at DCMS, the BVEP and other stakeholders, we are providing some updated guidance for the meetings and events sector following some further announcements over the past few days.

Business events and conferences to resume from 1st October 

Business events, conferences and event centres will be given the go ahead to reopen on 1st 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. 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, will help event organisers, venue operators and participants in the UK understand how they can work and host business events and conferences and keep both their delegates and staff safe.

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 the 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

Venue and Guided Tours

Following some clarification from DCMS, guided tours of up to 30 people may now take place indoors or outdoors provided businesses undertake risk assessments in line with the published guidance and put any necessary mitigations in place.

LGA Guidance to Local Authorities on Outdoor Events

The LGA has just published new guidance for local authorities on staging outdoor events. The guidance has been produced in response to concerns that different councils were taking different approaches when assessing applications and emphasise that current government guidelines allow for outdoor events that are organised by businesses, charitable organisations, and public bodies to take place provided they have carried out a thorough risk assessment and taken all reasonable steps to mitigate the risk of viral transmission, taking into account that risk assessment, in line with COVID-19 Secure guidance.

Filming and broadcasting at permitted visitor economy venues

We have sought guidance on filming and broadcasting at permitted visitor economy venues and can share that both can take place subject to those using the premises following the guidance issued for filming from the British Film Commission or in the case of TV production the BBC. The number of persons allowed on site will be in accordance with the filming or TV production guidance. However, arrangements for meetings, accommodation or food and refreshments will need to follow the relevant visitor economy guidance. Exhibition and conference centres are not permitted venues presently and therefore unfortunately not able to use their facilities for these purposes.

Face Covering Requirements

With the announcement that further businesses and activities are being allowed to reopen, the guidance on wearing face coverings has been updated to say that face coverings are required in casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor play areas, exhibition halls and conference centres.

Clarification on Spas Reopening

While spas will be able to reopen from tomorrow, the updated guidance from Government for Close Contact Services says that Saunas and Steam Rooms should remain closed until further notice and that the use of changing rooms should still be discouraged wherever possible with customers advised to change and shower in their rooms or at home.

Please note that this updated guidance currently relates to England only, with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland publishing their own guidance.

Update to the guidance in Wales

First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has announced that from Saturday 22nd August:

  • Up to four households will be able to join together to form a single extended household. 
  • A meal following a wedding, civil partnership or funeral will be allowed for up to 30 people indoors if social distancing can be maintained.

However, he also stated that the Welsh Government will not be making any further changes to the rules on people meeting indoors with people who aren’t part of their household or extended household. This means that people should only visit pubs, restaurants or other places indoors with people from their household or extended household.

We will continue to provide further updates to our clients and stakeholders as they become available and work as closely as possible with our colleagues across Government and key trade and advocacy bodies to support the meetings and events sector throughout this challenging time for our industry.

As always, do get in touch with any of our team if there is anything we can do to help.