We are now beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, as the prospect of in-person experiences is becoming more viable . It was on 22 February, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave England some hope when he said events could return as early as 21 June without restrictions, provided the virus doesn’t throw up any more surprises and the vaccination programmes are rolled out successfully. However, some events may be permitted to go ahead with reduced capacities, with up to 1000 people or 50% capacity from 17 May. Also pilot events will be run from this time, with testing, to test safety mitigation.
A four-step plan was unveiled by the Prime Minister detailing a roadmap back to a more normal way of life. The relaxation in lockdown restrictions will happen in stages, with the final restrictions on social contact set to be lifted on 21 June.
“There will be a gap of at least five weeks between each of the plan's subsequent steps to allow for the impact of changes on infection rates and hospital admissions to be assessed”- the Prime Minister said.
The stages of reopening have been scheduled for "no earlier than" a given date, allowing them to be pushed back if the situation requires it. He accentuated that the plan would be under constant review, but with 17.5 million vaccinations administered, it is realistic that the end of the final UK lockdown is in sight.
This will lead us, he said, "cautiously but irreversibly towards regaining our freedoms."
Welcoming this “one-way road to freedom” - as stated by the Prime Minister, the The Event Industry Alliance (EIA), comprising the Association of Event Organisers (AEO), the Association of Event Venues (AEV), and the Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA) called for the government to implement a targeted short term support package for the UK exhibitions sector to save it from total collapse.
“The inclusion of events in the latter stages of the reopening roadmap is a welcome development and we are confident that we will be able to further demonstrate our ability to deliver Covid-secure events in the pilot the government has announced”, they added.
The announcement gave a huge lift to the UK's live events industry. Overnight venues and agencies across the UK have reported an uptick in bookings and enquiries. Companies such as Taylor Lynn Corporation (TLC) reported a sizable uplift in bookings for events in Q3 and Q4 2021 with over £1.5 million worth of new enquiries and tenders, and many clients rebooking their postponed events during January and February. The company has seen a surge in large event enquiries for Q1 2022, following the lockdown announcements on February 22, 2021.
With events industry experts being global leaders in managing organised audiences, there is no doubt that in person events in the UK can be hosted in a Covid-secure manner, above and beyond standard government guidelines.