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PM’s July 19 announcement gets mixed reaction from eventprofs

Event professionals have bid a cautious welcome to the prime minister’s announcement that all legal restrictions are due to be lifted in England on July 19.

Boris Johnson’s announcement has met with calls for further assurances for the sector, more guidance on safety and clear messaging from government.

Simon Hughes, chair of the Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP), said: “While we welcome the news announced by the Prime Minister, we continue to engage with Government at all levels to push for additional targeted support, the introduction of more measures to aid a long term sustained recovery and, most importantly, a binding assurance that the industry will not face further restrictions on their ability to operate, both on a local and national level, as a result of a further rise in infection levels.

“On this vital point, we have today written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, asking for his department to work collaboratively with the sector, to ensure events of all kinds, and the industry as a whole, can operate safely and fully into the future.”

Jane Longhurst, chief executive of the mia, said that she has concerns that the announcement has pre-empted any government guidance that is due to be issued as a result of the Phase 1 pilots.

“Without the guidance, the announcement appears to be reactionary rather than an informed government and science-backed decision around the safety of events. Business meetings and events are safe – something the mia has maintained from the outset of the pandemic.

“We understand that any forthcoming government guidance from the pilot events won’t be mandatory, but we do know that the sector will be keen to implement everything it possibly can to ensure the safety of customers and employees. What we need to re-assure bookers is clear messaging from Cabinet that it really is safe to meet.

“Elsewhere, it is essential that our ongoing dialogue with government that has made huge strides in the last 16 months, is maintained not only to rebuild the sector, which has been hugely affected by the pandemic, but to demonstrate how business meetings can aid the UK’s economic recovery.”

Writing on LinkedIn, Ryan Curtis-Johnson, head of PR and marketing at DRPG, said: “I think it’s great for the industry – but it just seems a bit ‘weird’. I know we have the vaccines etc, but talk about rip off the band aid and stabilisers. We need to get back to life and learn to live with this virus. I just hope he doesn’t turn around in the winter and lock us back down again.

Robert Kenward, founder of The Hub Jobs, said: “He’s put the responsibility firmly onto us rather than take any more flak for his terrible decision making. He’s not a leader, he’s dangerous.”

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