The announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson that conferences and exhibitions will be permitted from 1 October 2020 will feel long overdue for many in the UK’s events industry, writes Osborn founder Chris Leggett.
As reported on Conference News and elsewhere, the PM said the decision would depend on data and that local authorities would have powers to close events if there was a danger to the public.
With events industry leaders valuing the contribution to the UK economy at £70bn the enforced break since March has had a devastating effect.
Successful events companies saw their entire 2020 calendar of business cancelled in a matter of hours as lockdown started to bite.
Set piece events across the West Midlands and beyond, which usually saw thousands of people gather for awards, conferences, launches and networking, were postponed or pulled.
And, inevitably, thousands of people have lost their jobs or been placed on furlough, with the latter unsure if their roles would be needed without a set date for return.
Events are an integral part of successful communications planning, with the PM acknowledging the importance of meeting or gathering to receive valued infomation.
Answering a question during his Downing St briefing, Mr Johnson said “a balance” was needed between digital and face to face interactions, despite the distancing enforced to preserve public health.
Conference News report him saying: “We have learnt a lot of lessons during this crisis, about the potential of technology, but I think there are also limits to this technology and is no substitute for face-to-face meetings and interactions.”
All those in the events industry who have called for clarity on the future had made the exact same point.
The lead-in to October 1 will go quickly for all those hoping to revive their autumn events calendar.
For many it is too late to prevent significant damage to their businesses, which will take long to heal.
But for now it is the start which will feel long overdue for all the venues, events organisers, contractors, exhibitors and their staff.
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