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Second pilot business event confirmed

by Martin Fullard

The Home and Gift Buyers’ Festival and the Manchester Furniture Show at Harrogate Convention Centre has been chosen as part of the Government’s Events Research Programme (ERP) pilot, which is being managed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

The event will run 18-21 July, overlapping the 19 July in which the Government targets the lifting of restrictions.

Harrogate Convention Centre will host both shows, which run from 18-21 July, following a major conversion back to its regular use, after being a stand-by 500-bed NHS Nightingale Hospital.

The four-day event will be only the second Government pilot for the business events sector, following on from the Good Business Festival at ACC Liverpool on 28 April.

Under the ERP pilot conditions, there will be no restrictions on visitor numbers or social distancing requirements on any day of the event. However, Covid-status certification will apply. All attendees will be required to certify either they have had two vaccinations at least two weeks prior to attending or a negative NHS Lateral Flow Test at least 48hrs before attending. The consent required from all participants to opt into the Event Research programme and NHS Test and Trace will be sent to all registered buyers and exhibitors individually.

Paula Lorimer, director at Harrogate Convention Centre, said: “We’re very proud that Harrogate is leading the national conference and exhibitions sector as an ERP pilot for our industry. It’s a recognition of the key role of Harrogate Convention Centre, and our industry as a whole, in driving local economies, and arguably supporting the levelling up agenda in the North. We have over £15m of economic impact currently on our books between now and next March, and are raring to go, with safety being our highest priority.”

In a normal year, Harrogate Convention Centre hosts an estimated 150,000 conference and trade delegates with an economic impact of £35m on local hotels, B&Bs, bars, restaurants and shops.

Lorimer added: “This is a welcomed and much-needed first step to help resume our conferencing and events industry and the whole live events sector, not just here, but across the UK, as part of Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown.”

The pilots explore how to ease opening and maximise participation.

Russell Rule, show director of Home & Gift Buyers’ Festival, said: “With the backing of the government, public health bodies, and our key customers we can see that the appetite and enthusiasm are there for an in-person buying and selling event. There is great excitement from both exhibitors and visitors to reconnect in Harrogate to celebrate our 60th Anniversary.”

Registration for the event is currently in line with previous years, with key names confirmed including Hoopers Department Store, Fenwick, British Garden Centres and Cotswold Trading.

Russell added: “Health and safety is paramount and remains our number one priority.”

A comprehensive Health and Safety document with FAQs for the event can be found here.

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