Home Coronavirus Updates Social distancing reduced to 1m, but grave risk remains to sector without events restart date

Social distancing reduced to 1m, but grave risk remains to sector without events restart date

by Martin Fullard

The Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP), the advocacy group for the UK’s £70bn events industry, has welcomed the relaxation of the current two metre physical distancing rule, 23 June, but is continuing to strongly push the government to provide a clear date for the UK events industry to re-open.

Social distancing will be relaxed from 4 July, when the wider hospitality industry reopens. People will be expected to adhere to ‘one meter plus’ rule, and follow further measures such as reducing face-to-face contact in favour of side-to-side.

Simon Hughes, chair of the BVEP, welcomed the news, but insisted it is immaterial on its own without a firm restart date for the events industry. “While we all welcome today’s news, which has come as a result of sustained work by the BVEP and its Partners to provide strong evidence as to how this will benefit the industry and make its survival more likely, we continue to press strongly for a date as to when live events can take place, and under what circumstances.” 

Hughes added that a lot of work has gone into ensuring the industry can operate not only safely, but viably as well. He added: “As an industry we have been working together, with government, to look at how we can reopen safely, while ensuring that we can have a commercially viable business model going forward. Venues, agencies and suppliers have been working tirelessly over the past few months to prepare for what we hope will now be a green light to open. We are ready. Now let us get back to work and use events to help our country recover.”

The BVEP, which represents the vast majority of associations across the UK events sector, along with all of the leading destinations, has also warned that if the industry is not allowed to open up safely as quickly as possible, it risks losing in excess of £50bn of direct spend and the loss of over 500,000 jobs.

It has also continued to make the case that we are a world class industry which has the ability, if allowed, to use the power of events to provide world class solutions to help deliver economic and cultural benefits, drive our industrial strategy, secure jobs and reinforce our international reputation.

Lex Butler, chair of the Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA) also welcomed the news, but insisted that, still, further financial help is needed to keep businesses solvent. She said: “At last the clarity on guidelines and social distancing that we have all been awaiting for so long seems to be imminent. It’ll be a great step forward but it’s not enough to prevent closures and redundancies with rent and rates due very soon. We now need the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to provide extra financial support for the industry.”

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