Plan to restart business conferences ‘under review’ in huge blow for £32bn sector


Plans to restart business events and conferences in October are “under review” following the Government’s new, tougher coronavirus laws announced on Wednesday.

Back in July, the Government said socially-distanced business events and conferences had been given the “go ahead” to resume from October 1, “provided rates of infection remain at current levels”.

But yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a host of new measures banning social gatherings of more than six people as the number of daily cases rose sharply – and with it, the announcement over business, sporting and music events.

A statement last night said selected pilot sporting events can still go ahead – but that the capacity for these would be restricted to 1,000.

It also said the Government will “make a decision” on whether people will be able to attend business conferences and events from October 1 – and if fans can return to sports stadia.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “In light of increasing transmission rates, the Government is reviewing the proposed sports and business events pilots ahead of the 1 October and we will unfortunately need to scale some back.

“We know fans and audiences are eager to return, and jobs depend on this too, so work continues around the clock on the moonshot project with the ambition of having audiences back much closer to normal by Christmas, if safe to do so.”

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Sporting pilots will not be allowed to take place in areas with a high coronavirus incidence rate.

It comes after the Government in July announced a return to indoor business events, which it estimated are worth £32.6bn to the UK each year – representing 38m international visitors to the UK in 2018.

Guidance was also published for venues to adhere to social distancing and hygiene standards.

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