Roadmap: what does delay mean for the UK events industry?

The UK Government has confirmed a four-week delay to the final stage of the ‘roadmap out of lockdown’.

The fourth and final step of the roadmap was due to happen on Monday 21 June and would have seen all restrictions lifted. However, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this will be delayed by four weeks to 19 July due to a rising number of Covid-19 cases.

However, there will be a review after two weeks and the government reserves the possibility to lift all restrictions then.

“As things stand and on the evidence, I can see right now, I am confident that we will not need more than four weeks, so we won’t need to go beyond 19 July,” Boris Johnson said at a press briefing.

At each stage of the roadmap, four tests have been applied: vaccine deployment, vaccine effectiveness, infection rates and hospitalisations and variants of concern. The tests for stage four have not yet been passed.

Rising infections in the UK are being driven by the Delta variant, first identified in India, which now accounts for 90 per cent of infections. There have been 42,323 cases of the Delta variant confirmed in the UK, up by 29,892 from the previous week, according to Public Health England.

This variant is believed to be 60 per cent more infectious than the Alpha variant – first identified in Kent and previously dominant in the UK – and twice as likely to result in infected people being hospitalised.

The announcement comes as scientist call for a delay in reopening to allow more time for people to be vaccinated and receive second doses.

“Now is the time to ease off the accelerator because we have the chance in the next four weeks to save many thousands of lives by vaccinating millions of people,” Johnson added.

The implementation of the fourth stage would have allowed venues and events to operate without any restrictions, however, under the current stage three, events can still go ahead ensuring they follow regulations:

  • 1,000 people or 50 per cent of a venue’s capacity, whichever is lower at indoor events.
  • 4,000 people or 50 per cent of a site or venue’s capacity, whichever is lower at outdoor events.
  • Follow all relevant Covid-secure guidance depending on the type of event and complete a related risk assessment.
  • Organisers and attendees adhere to all legal requirements, including maintaining group sizes permitted by social contact restrictions at the relevant step in the roadmap and preventing mixing between groups, enforcing social distancing guidelines and mandating face coverings in indoor areas where required.

The government has also made a special provision for large, outdoor seated venues where crowds can be safely distributed around the venue, allowing up to 10,000 people or 25 per cent of total seated capacity, whichever is lower.

If an event runs across multiple days, no more than 1,000 people can be admitted at any one time over that period. Equally, if a single venue hosts multiple different events at one time, the attendees of each event must be separated. For example, at an exhibition centre hosting multiple business events, the 50 per cent capacity cap will apply to each event, rather than the venue.

Limits on indoor gatherings in Northern Ireland are scheduled to be relaxed on 21 June and the current rules in Wales will be reviewed on 25 June.

Jane Longhurst, chief executive of the Meetings Industry Association (mia), said: “We understand the necessity for the government to delay the move to Step 4 – the final stage of its roadmap – that would have seen the last of England’s restrictions lifted and the legal limits on social contact removed.

“Our view is that it is better to delay for four weeks rather than have an unsettling re-trenching further down the line – as has happened with the travel corridors that have seen countries such as Portugal being moved to the amber travel list with very little warning.

“With venues investing an average £41,113 in enhanced hygiene and infection control measures and securing accreditations such as AIM Secure to ensure their properties are safe, we know from the early results of the pilots that business meetings and events can operate safely, but we want to open and remain open without capacity restrictions when it is safe to do so.

“The ongoing issue being faced by our industry is confidence to book and commit to contracting events. We fully appreciate that any delay continues to fuel that uncertainty and is potentially going to damage confidence even further.”

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