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Industry warns of catastrophic consequences for UK events without immediate guidelines for opening

The Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP), the advocacy group for the UK’s £70bn events industry, has today warned of ‘a catastrophic and irreversible’ impact to the industry if the UK government further delays publishing clear and practical guidelines on the opening of the events sector and relaxing the current two-metre physical distancing rule.

The sharp warning – the BVEP called the delay ‘unacceptable’ - came as the UK events industry continued to face further uncertainty over the release date of the long awaited official guidance for the events industry.

In light of the debate over the current UK two-metre physical distancing measure, the BVEP had shared the evidence it had gathered with government. That evidence from partner organisations highlighted the business impacts of social distancing measures and the current lack of guidance, which, the association said, posed a clear threat to over £53bn (US$66.6bn) of GDP and the loss of over 500,000 jobs.

Simon Hughes, Chair of the BVEP, said: “We have been providing advice and information to government for almost four months now, responding to requests for information and data and working with many of our partners to produce really fast responses and feedback on many of the measures that have been put in place to support businesses. Yet, we are now expected to continue waiting for decisions to be made over the release of guidance for the entire visitor economy, and a start date for the event industry to begin rebuilding our significant contribution to that economy, which we now consider to be unacceptable.

“There are only three countries in the world currently operating on the two-metre social distancing model – Canada, Spain and the UK. This is a risk-based assessment, not a rule founded on the best available guidance. It is also putting the UK under a massive competitive disadvantage, as other competitive markets open up ahead of us with different protocols and regimes to help manage the risks in a variety of ways that don’t rely exclusively on social distancing measures.

“If clear guidance that allows the event industry to open up safely is not received by the end of June at the very latest, our world-class industry, which has taken decades to build, will be decimated. Based on the evidence that we’ve seen from across the whole industry the overall loss of GDP, if we have to operate with the current two metres of physical distancing, will be £53bn, while at one metre it will be £42.5bn. Based on achieving only 25% of potential business in the two-metre scenario, this puts over 500,000 jobs at risk.”

Sentiment within the industry has shifted in recent days and there is now a clear view from within the BVEP that if government cannot give a clear date for reopening, supported by practical guidance that provides effective ways of managing risk and creating confidence among clients, guests and visitors, then it should ‘get out of the way’ and leave it to the experts in the event industry.