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Can I Hold a Business Event Before July 2021? Covid Restrictions UK

What does the 4 Week Delay to the Final Stage of Lockdown Lifting Mean for UK Event Organisers?

Event organisers across the UK undoubtedly sighed in collective despair as Boris Johnson confirmed that the final lifting of lockdown measures is to be delayed by 4 weeks.

Just to be clear, this applies to England only.

But it will come as a bitter disappointment to event organisers who were hoping to add an in person or hybrid element to their conferences and networking events from 21st June.

We’ve taken a look at current restrictions, the changes announced today and we’ve put together answers to the questions many of you might now be asking.

Can I host a business conference in the UK before 19th July?

Short answer: Yes (but with some notable restrictions).

Even before the final stage of lifting, business events have been able to go ahead in person with restrictions in place. 

Step 3 of restrictions lifting, which went ahead on 17th May 2021, was the point at which indoor business events were able to resume.

The UK Government guidance advises:

“Events that are able to commence from Step 3 include those where:

  1. People are likely to congregate in one area for the duration of the event.
  2. People are likely to enter or leave the venue in large numbers at a similar time.

This could include events and activities such as:

  • business events such as conferences, trade shows, exhibitions, charity auctions, and private dining events such as charity or gala dinners and awards ceremonies, and corporate hospitality”

So, in some form, business events have been possible since 17th May, subject to organisers meeting 3 requirements:

  • They follow all the Covid secure guidance
  • They follow all legal requirements, including restrictions around group sizes
  • They take all action to mitigate the risk to public health

What’s the maximum number of attendees I can have at a business event or conference?

Short answer: 1,000 attendees or 50% of your venue’s capacity - whichever is the LOWER figure.

For all indoor events, including business conferences, the restrictions currently mean that the maximum number of attendees at any one time is 1,000 or 50% of the venue’s capacity (whichever is the lower of those two numbers).

But don’t forget that there’s also social distancing measures to consider, which means facilitating attendees being able to stay 1 metre plus from others. That means laying out conference rooms very differently in many cases.

So for small events in big spaces, this could very well be feasible. For bigger events and conferences, it may be very difficult to make it viable.

If you want to know what the maximum number of people you could realistically have in the venue you’ve planned your event at is, speak to the organisers and find out what the options are.

What happens after 19th July 2021?

Well, if the final stage of lockdown lifting does indeed go ahead in England on 19th July, all legal social distancing requirements will be lifted. This means maximum capacity restrictions brought in to reduce transmission will be a thing of the past and the 1 metre plus rule will be gone too.

What should I do if I had a big event planned before 19th July?

A quick scan of event listings websites confirms that many hopeful event organisers had been planning events from 21st July onwards. Boris Johnson’s latest announcement will come as a real blow to those plans.

The first thing you need to do is:

  • Work out whether you can feasibly run the event with the capacity restrictions outlined above and adhere to social distancing requirements. 

If you can’t, you could:

  • Cancel altogether and refund tickets
  • Move the event to later in the year
  • Consider going entirely virtual
  • Consider reducing the size of the online event to meet requirements and running it online simultaneously (hybrid) for those you can’t fit into the venue

How can I quickly take my in-person event virtual?

This very much depends on whether you’d made any provision for this in advance. If you’d already planned to run your event as a hybrid one, then you’re more likely to be able to make the switch to full virtual a lot more seamlessly than if you’d made no provision for online beforehand.

Going online isn’t always as easy as it might appear. If you’ve got the expertise to manage the technology, the broadcasting and the technical side of virtual event streaming, then you could sign up for a DIY platform and run this yourself.

Of course, this isn’t an option for everyone. Not every event business has technology and broadcast expertise within it - in fact we often find very few do.

That’s where we come in. We offer way more than a virtual event platform. Our team handles the whole process for you, handling the technology, the broadcasting, ensuring your attendees can network virtually and collating the all important data for your sponsors. 

If you were due to hold an event that needs to change because of the delay to restriction easing (subject to dates) we may be able to help. Get in touch for more information.

Will restrictions definitely ease on 19th July?

There are no guarantees. The idea of the 4 week delay is to increase the numbers of adults who’ve had both doses of the vaccine. But at each stage of easing, the UK Government has outlined that thing could be thwarted by uncontrollable transmission or variants of concern. So there are no cast iron promises here.

However, the Government’s current stance is that they’re confident of relaxing all social distancing measures on that day.

At this point, larger in person events could go ahead and the 1 metre plus rule would also be a thing of the past.

Planning larger events for after 19th July - some things to consider

We get it. The events industry has been amongst the hardest hit by the pandemic and you can’t just sit around waiting for this thing to blow over.

You’ve got a business to run, events to plan and attendees asking questions!

So it’s natural that event organisers will be looking to plan events post 19th July.

A few practical considerations if that’s you:

  • Have a back up plan ready. What will happen in the event of a further delay
  • Consider setting up hybrid from the start. If you’re hybrid from the outset, you can open up to attendees who can’t travel or who are reluctant to travel by allowing them to attend online. All the while (subject to restrictions) you can simultaneously offer an in person element. If you’re already set up as a hybrid event, pivoting to entirely online is much simpler process, even if it is last minute
  • Be clear with attendees about your ticketing policy from the outset. Will you refund? Or rearrange and transfer tickets. Attendees appreciate that this is a fast moving situation with lots of unpredictable changes and they’ll appreciate your transparency

It’s a tough time to be an event organiser, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel now. 

Want some help going online or hybrid?

If you’re an event organiser with no experience of taking your in person events online and need some specialist help, we’re your people.

We’re event technology specialists who started with in person events. Our experience of both combined puts us in a unique position to deliver seamless hybrid events.

We white label services to event organisers and also work directly with conferences and events. So if you’re considering hybrid or virtual only, get in touch.

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