We need a resolution – over to you, Mr Johnson
Are we finally getting somewhere? After months of uncertainty, it looks like this week we could be getting a roadmap to recovery.
In the Downing Street press conference on Friday 3 July, prime minister Boris Johnson said that the Government will set out a timetable this week for getting events as “Covid-secure as possible”.
He also said that he understands people in the industry are anxious to know when measures can be eased and admitted that it had been an incredibly tough time for the sector. Too right it has.
So the announcement of a timetable this week will give some much needed certainty to the sector. Once we have a date, or some semblance of a plan, we can get to work.
We have had hints of what the plan may be. In a response to a constituent asking when the sector can reopen, transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris said that it will be when the UK’s Covid Alert Level moves to 2. This by no means represents Government policy, but at least gives some indication of current Whitehall thinking.
Covid Alert Level 2 is when Covid-19 is present in the UK but cases and transmissions are low. There are no or minimal social distancing measures and enhanced testing, tracing and screening. The UK is currently at Level 3, having downgraded from Level 4 on 19 June.
There is currently no indication of when the UK will downgrade to a Level 2. It will depend much on how the current phase of reopening goes. For example, if the reopening of the pubs and restaurants at the weekend brings with it a jump in infections, as some have predicted, then a downgrading to Level 2 will be a long way off.
Whatever happens, our sector will need more than a promise that events can restart when the Covid Alert Level reaches 2 from the timetable that Johnson has promised this week. We want a date, we want to be able to plan for the future, we want to be able to work with clients and suppliers again and get the industry back up and running as quickly and safely as possible. We’ve got the safety procedures in place, we just need a date.
However, that’s even if we get the timetable this week. Many have noted the prime minister’s “elastic relationship with the truth” – which makes it difficult to know if we can even take seriously his promise that there will be a timetable for our sector this week. But the prime minister should know that with each day, week and month that passes that the UK events industry is left in limbo one of the UK’s brightest and best sectors suffers more and more pain.
Over to you, Mr Johnson.