The impact of COVID 19 on the events industry has been wide sweeping and deeply felt.
None of us have ever experienced anything like this and hopefully we never will again.
All of us have been affected emotionally and physically by COVID 19 and many of us will continue to feel the effects for a long time to come.
The impact of COVID 19 on the events industry has been particularly bad. Venues have been forced to close indefinitely, events have been cancelled and postponed and livelihoods put on the line. The events industry contributes over £50 billion pounds to the UK economy every year. We employ 570,000 individuals full time plus additional self-employed, freelance and part-time staff. Everyone who works in the events industry does so because they are passionate about what they do. It is not a particularly highly paid pastime and the hours we work are certainly not very sociable. But we love it. Like a highly addictive drug, we get a thrill out of spreading joy by giving people extraordinary experiences through our musical and theatrical entertainment, culinary expertise, unique venues, audio visual displays and floral creations. We are brilliant at it, world leading in fact. But we have been stifled and it has caused us all an immense amount of stress.
It has also severely impacted our wonderful clients who have been planning their wedding or celebration for months or years only to have to cancel or postpone without any guarantee if or when their event can take place.
The impact of COVID 19 on the events industry has also been felt financially. Many of us have been unable to access any of the Governments highly lauded financial support and have been struggling to make ends meet as we juggle ongoing business expenses without any income.
But that hasn’t stopped us. Our caterers have been dishing up food to NHS heroes, our florists have been delivering home arrangements and our entertainers have been putting on free virtual shows. After all the show must go on. But this doesn’t pay the bills and virtual events can really not replace the multi-sensory human interaction you get from attending a live event.
So what’s happening to get the show back on the road?
The whole events industry breathed a sigh of relief on Friday 4th July 2020 as the UK Government finally announced a date for business events and wedding receptions to return.
After much lobbying from the events community, the UK Government finally gave us the green light to start planning events from 1st August. Indoor performances, larger event pilots and wedding receptions for up to 30 guests were planned.
But then we received another bombshell. On Friday, 31st July, the Prime Minister announced that the number of COVID 19 cases were rising. The Governments response to this was to change their strategy, causing wedding receptions and indoor events planned between 1st and 15th August to be cancelled.
This announcement has caused yet more stress, fear and disappointment not only to me and my colleagues across the events industry but to our clients also. The decision of the Government seems to me nonsensical. How is it fair to allow holiday makers to travel by plane, train and bus; to allow tourists to travel around the country and stay in hotels; to allow us to eat out in pubs and restaurants in indiscriminate number; and yet not be allowed to gather our families and friends (our bubbles) together for a celebration within a controlled environment?
So my colleagues and I continue to lobby Government in the hope that they will see the impact COVID 19 is having on the events industry and allow us to fully open for business again. We are also campaigning for additional funds to support the events businesses which will struggle to stay afloat into 2021.
As an industry, we are well rehearsed in adapting to challenging circumstances. We are practised at managing risk, crowd control and all matters of health and safety. All of us have been working hard to put in place any and all measures needed to keep our guests and our workforce safe. PPE has been ordered, new cleaning regimes formulated and social distancing strategies prepared. We are just waiting to be told when we can start.
In the meantime, you can help us. Be sensible, protect one another, wash your hands and wear face masks and help us avoid a second wave. The wedding and events industry cannot afford to hang on any longer. When we do finally get the go-ahead: plan your wedding, set a date for your party, call your colleagues together for a face-to-face conference and design your exhibition stand. But please listen to the advice, ask your guests and colleagues to follow our instructions, adhere to the guidelines and follow the rules.