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PM Johnson: UK events industry ‘to restart in October’

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced conferences and exhibitions will be permitted in the country  from 1 October 2020, subject to successful pilot events.

In an announcement from Downing Street on 17 July, 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.

Following the announcement, HBAA chair, Lex Butler said: “At long last, finally we have a date to work to and the uncertainty is over, after all the hard work in lobbying and making preparations to ensure the safety of delegates and staff.

“It’s great news, but we’re reserving our celebrations until we see the small print.”

Simon Hughes, Business Visits & Events Partnership chair added: “After several months of lobbying, and providing significant amounts of evidence and research to government, and working closely in partnership with our colleagues at DCMS, we are delighted that today the Prime Minister has finally announced a go-date of October 1 for the recommencement of business events and exhibitions, subject to the successful completion of some pilot events.

“While this news will come as a great relief to the entire events industry, we are still conscious that the sector will require significant support going forward, as it looks to rebuild and renew, and we will continue to engage with government to look at practical ways to ensure that our world-class industry continues to thrive and support the UK’s overall recovery over the years to come.

“We also look forward to working with DCMS to ensure a successful outcome of the pilot scheme and will provide further updates to the industry as soon as we are able.

“Finally, we would like to thank the entire events industry for their patience, resilience and support that they have demonstrated over what has been an incredibly challenging few months, and we look forward to working together, with one voice, as we look towards the next stage of our recovery.”

The Nightingale hospitals, which currently occupy ExCeL London, the NEC, Harrogate Convention Centre and Manchester Central, will remain in use until the end of March 2021. It is not yet clear how this will impact events at these venues.

Answering a question from a Financial Times reporter about people returning to work, the PM said: “There’s a balance. 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.”

The announcement comes as numerous industry associations, trade bodies and venues have begun creating Covid-19 safety guidelines and safety labels to instil confidence in planners and delegates.