Prime minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that conferences and exhibitions will be permitted in England from 1st October.
As part of his most recent update to the public on 17th July, the prime minister said the decision would ‘depend on data’ and that local authorities would have powers to close events if they considered there to be a high risk to the public. He also said that there would be pilot events ahead of the reopening date, to confirm that conferences and exhibitions can operate safely.
The Prime Minister also confirmed that the Nightingale hospitals at ExCeL London, the NEC, Harrogate Convention Centre and Manchester Central, will remain on standby until the end of March 2021, in case they are needed. It is not yet clear how this will impact events at these venues.
The business events industry has welcomed the news. Simon Hughes, chair of the Business Visits and Events Partnership commented: “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 1st October for the recommencement of business events and exhibitions, subject to the successful completion of some pilot events.”
The industry is still facing challenges, as he went on to explain: “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.”
As event organisers await the outcome of pilots, some are still reluctant to go ahead with planned trade shows while uncertainty remains. Clarion Gaming, organisers of the world’s largest annual gaming industry trade show and exhibition, has announced that it has postponed next year’s ICE London at ExCeL London until April 2021. The event was originally scheduled for February and is believed to have been rescheduled due to concerns over the status of global travel restrictions so early in the new year.
The 2020 edition of ICE London was one of the industry’s last major trade shows to successfully take place, in February 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic took hold globally.
Clarion Gaming’s Managing Director, Kate Chambers, said: “While the world is likely to be in a much better place in April 2021, I’m certain that we will experience more bumps in the road. However, I’m confident that with the on-going support of the ICE London and iGB Affiliate communities as well as the dedication of the Clarion Gaming team, we can navigate those challenges and deliver events that all sectors of the international industry want and need.”
To keep up to date with the status of events of relevance to the toy trade, see our regularly updated show diary here.