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Business events of up to 30 permitted from 1 August, Government confirms

Meetings of up to 30 people indoors in England will be permitted in venues from 1 August, if social distancing can be maintained and the venue can demonstrate that it has followed the official Covid-19 guidance, the Government has confirmed.

An update on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) read: “From 1 August, exhibition and conference centres will be allowed to show small groups of up to 30 people around to view the facilities and plan future events and to enable Government-backed pilot events to take place. They should not be open fully to host events more widely. 

Read more: Conferences and exhibitions return in October

“From 1 October, it is expected that events of all types, such as trade shows, consumer shows, exhibitions and conferences will be allowed at a capacity allowing for compliance with social distancing of 2m, or 1m with mitigation.

“Where such events involve people speaking loudly for prolonged periods of time, any mitigation must include particular attention to the ventilation of the spaces. This will be subject to the latest public health advice.

“The Visitor Economy guidance has been updated on the Government's website and is available here. The Association of Event Organisers (AEO) has also published guidance and further information will be shared on 20 July. 

Bob Prattey, chief executive of The ACC Liverpool Group, operators of ACC Liverpool, Exhibition Centre Liverpool and M&S Bank Arena, welcomed the news that conferences, business events and live entertainment will be able to restart from autumn subject to the success of pilot events.

“Our teams have been working behind the scenes to ensure that we are able to offer a safe environment for bringing organised events and large numbers of delegates back together again,” he said.

“Our campus has been operational throughout this time - working as a distribution centre for Liverpool City Council - therefore all social distancing protocols and management have already become second nature to our teams.

“While we understand the restart is subject to the successful completion of pilot events - and events will look somewhat different to what we have previously been used to - we welcome the challenges this new landscape will bring.”

In Liverpool alone, the business events sector is worth over £3.3bn a year, contributes 48% of business rates and supports 38,000 jobs across Liverpool.  The conference and events sector as a whole is worth £70 billion to the UK economy. 

Prattey added: “We would like to reassure all visitors that we are prepared and very much looking forward to opening our doors again as soon as we are able to do so.”

Paul Szomoru, director of business events at NewcastleGateshead Initiative, added the move was vital to the success of the North East’s economy. He said:: “It’s brilliant news that the Government has announced that conferences, exhibitions and events can be held from October. The industry brings in nearly a million visitors and £149m in expenditure to NewcastleGateshead every year and plays a crucial role in raising the profile of the destination. 

“While the industry has done a great job in adapting to the current situation and shifting towards online events, nothing beats human interaction and the collaboration and learning this brings. We’ve seen a real desire from organisers to get back to face-to-face meetings and this announcement will give them the confidence to start planning once again. 

“We have some iconic conference and meeting events space here, with more coming in the shape of Gateshead Quays in 2023, and we can’t wait to welcome back business events to the region.”