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Organisers and venues enhance covid safety to maintain confidence in events

By Emily Wallin.

Exhibition organisers and venues are introducing their own measures to keep visitors safe.

Venues have said they are enhancing their own safety procedures to maintain confidence in indoor events, after the government introduced new targeted measures to prevent the spread of Omicron variant.

The government’s latest advice which came into force today (30 November) states that masks are now a requirement for staff and visitors in shops, healthcare settings and on public transport but places no extra restrictions on other indoor venues.

Research conducted by the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) found 85% of visitors feel comfortable in the venue with the covid-19 safety measures in place.

Whilst masks are not compulsory in exhibition centres, ExCeL issued this advice to visitors this morning: “In line with the new government guidance, visitors to ExCeL London will be strongly advised to wear a face covering when inside the venue.”

In addition, the World Aviation Festival, which begins on Wednesday at ExCeL has partnered with a covid-testing company to provide rapid PCR tests on site for international attendees. All UK arrivals now require a PCR tests to be taken within two days of arrival in the country.

Packaging Innovations and Luxury Packaging London 2021, which takes place on 1 and 2 December at Olympia London said: “Following the announcements from Prime Minister Boris Johnson regarding the latest covid variant, we want to reassure you that the event on Wednesday and Thursday, is going ahead.” They added: “All attendees will need to demonstrate proof of covid-19 status for entry to the event.”

NEC Venue Protect measures introduced as part of the return to live events, require visitors over the age of eighteen to provide proof of their covid-status on entry into the NEC. Lateral flow tests are also available on-site.

Similar operations are in place for the International Convention Centre (ICC) and the Vox Conference Venue.

The NEC’s research -conducted from 29 July to 15 November 2021 prior to confirmation of the Omicron variant- identified 85% of visitors surveyed since the NEC reopened feel comfortable in the venue with the Covid-19 safety measures in place. It also found that 80% were able to take part in events without safety impacting their enjoyment and 87% said their experiences made them more confident about attending events in the future.

Ian Taylor, managing director for conventions and exhibitions at the NEC, said: “Clearly with the new variant confirmed, the situation may change. But to hear visitors have been able to relax and enjoy their time with us is a fantastic achievement for a live events business.

“Across our NEC, ICC and Vox convention and exhibition venues, we are working in partnership with our organisers to create environments that are safe and welcoming. “We have had lots of positive comments from visitors focusing on the amount of space in the venue, which helps people to consciously socially distance when they feel it’s needed.

“The decision to check all of our visitors for proof of their covid-status was also a challenging one, but it does seem to have encouraged confidence in the venue from the majority of our customers and their visitors.”