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What’s the secret? Demand grows for full findings of pilot events

Why hasn’t the government published the full findings from the Events Research Programme yet?

Event professionals have had a few scraps thrown to us so far, but nothing like the comprehensive report we’ve been promised.

MPs from all sides took up the cause this week, quizzing tourism minister Nigel Huddleston on the whereabouts of the report in Parliament.

Huddleston said: “Although we are not yet in a position to publish the full report, I can assure the House that post-event data closely monitored have not shown any evidence of the events causing outbreaks.

Shadow culture secretary Jo Stevens said there was nothing to explain the failure to publish the results, and asked what the secret was.

“Why won’t the Government tell the public, tell the industry and tell us what the results are, because all of those who have spent time and money organising and hosting test events – and those relying on this programme – would like to see the results”, she said.

And Conservative MP Mark Harper, who heads up the lockdown-sceptic COVID Research Group, said he was concerned that the government was holding back the results because it would have demonstrated that the restrictions could have been lifted on June 21.

He said: “I’ve got a very strong suspicion this set of data is fantastically positive. It must be ready for publication, because it must have been prepared for last week when step 4 was due to be announced so it must be ready to go.

“My fear is it demonstrated the opposite of the decision the Prime Minister announced last week. It would have demonstrated that we could have safely opened on June 21. That’s the real reason why it hasn’t been published, so why doesn’t he publish it today and put our minds at rest?”

Huddleston shot down this accusation, saying: “Some of the conspiracy theories around this, I’m afraid, I wouldn’t buy into”, adding that the report needs to be reviewed by a large number of stakeholders in Government and would be released very soon indeed.

Huge losses

However, the website Politico has now shed further light on what the full findings may contain. It claims to have seen an internal government economic impact assessment that shows the events sector will be devastated by huge losses if even the most minimal coronavirus restrictions remain beyond July 19.

Official slides and graphs presented to ministers allegedly paint a bleak economic picture for the sector if face masks and other social distancing measures remain in place for events in Step 4 of the roadmap to recovery.

Politico claims the following scenarios have been modelled:

High intervention: Social distancing scrapped, mandatory face masks for a maximum of two hours, COVID certification, attendance caps and a food and drink ban. Under these conditions, indoor seated venues (ie those used for business events) were projected to achieve just 59 per cent of their 2019 turnover.

Medium intervention: Masks for two hours, COVID certification and an alcohol ban. This would see indoor seated venues reach 71 per cent of their 2019 turnover.

Low intervention: Just one measure – face masks. Yet even with only face masks in place, indoor seated venues would get just 72 per cent of their 2019 turnover.

Politico also says that the government’s internal data reveals that under current Step 3 restrictions indoor seated venues are achieving just 51 per cent of their 2019 turnover.

If these figures are correct, it’s clear that the sector will struggle to operate if there are any masks and social distancing measures in place for in-person business events past July 19.

We’ve already been told how few cases of Covid-19 have occurred within the Events Research Programme. If the full findings from the programme are in line with what is being reported, it’s clear that ministers must now be considering the lifting of all restrictions for events from July 19.

As eventprofs, with our lives and livelihoods in limbo, we just need to see those full findings as soon as possible.

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