MACEOS calls for ban on public gatherings to be shortened

Lim: Malaysian government needs to financially help small- and mid-sized event companies to avoid them going belly up

Even if Malaysia’s movement control order (MCO) is lifted on May 12 – the end of its third extension – a six-month ban on public gatherings will mean that the entire business events industry has generated almost no revenue for 2020, lamented the travel trade.

Vincent Lim, president of the Malaysian Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (MACEOS), said in a recent webinar titled Sustainability & Resilience in the Age of Covid-19: How do Employers and Employees Navigate Together During Crisis? that the situation remains uncertain as the industry awaits post-MCO guidelines from the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Lim: hopes that some business events can still proceed at the end of this year

Lim explained: “We estimate a few thousand business events will be affected, and this includes over 300 trade and consumer exhibitions, as well as hundreds of local and international conferences and other events.”

According to a MACEOS survey, losses from these cancelled events will total around RM2.4 billion (US$551.1 million), and more than 10,000 employees will be affected. This is as many events companies will also not have any revenue for this year.

Lim hoped the MOH will consider a ban on public gatherings for three months instead, so that in 4Q2020, some business events will be able to go on, which will minimise the impact on the industry.

He assured that if this were to happen, MACEOS “will implement the new standard operating procedures (SOPs) which will be endorsed by MOH”, for the events.

In collaboration with the Business Events Council Malaysia and Arts, Live Festival and Events Association, MACEOS has set up a special task force to develop SOPs for the business events industry in the post-MCO period. These SOPs will include social distancing guidelines, hygiene precautionary measures, and more.

Lim shared that the SOPs are vital for the industry as the way meetings, conferences and exhibitions will be conducted in future will differ.

“Event organisers will place the safety of delegates as a priority. Hand sanitisers, temperature screenings and social distancing are a given until a vaccine for Covid-19 is found. Furthermore, coffee breaks and lunches may also be packed (in lieu of) buffet set-ups.”

Overall, Covid-19 has seriously impacted the country as there have been no public gatherings of any kind since the MCO came into effect on March 18.

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