Business events in Australia could take place as early as July according to a three-step recovery plan announced by prime minister, Scott Morrison, last week.
The COVIDSafe Australia plan outlines steps to gradually remove baseline restrictions and reopen the economy. Phase one, in effect this week, will see some businesses and schools reopened, with gatherings of up to 10 people allowed, along with some local and regional travel.
Phase two will see entertainment venues like galleries and cinemas reopen in June and gatherings of up to 20 people allowed. Phase three, described as the ‚Äėnew normal‚Äô, will come into effect in July and will allow gatherings of up to 100 people. International travel and mass gatherings over 100 people will remain restricted.
Chair of the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA), Vanessa Findlay, praised the announcement, saying the plan will allow industry operators to reactivate sales leads.
‚ÄúThis is a great kickstart to the industry and with gatherings of up to 100 people, many venues will be able to reopen,‚ÄĚ she said.
Last month, BECA reported that more than AU$35.7 billion will be lost over the next 12 months, as nearly all business events scheduled for 2020 (96 per cent) have been cancelled or postponed.
BECA has also successfully lobbied the Federal Government to make a distinction between mass gatherings and B2B events such as conferences and exhibitions.
Speaking to TTGmice, Findlay said the body is working to establish new incentive schemes and operational procedures to ensure business events can swiftly and safely return.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôve been working with the government from the very beginning and are now finalising guidelines for hygiene and safety that we hope will provide the confidence, incentive and motivation to rebook and hold events as soon as restrictions are lifted,‚ÄĚ she said.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre also working with individual State and Territory jurisdictions to ensure clarity and consistency across the country so that delegates can travel interstate to attend business events.‚ÄĚ
BECA‚Äôs Covid-19 Business Events Response & Recovery Framework, developed in consultation with the Exhibition & Event Association of Australasia (EEAA) and the Venue Management Association (VMA), will be released in coming weeks, in line with government funding provisions.
‚ÄúWe will continue to work with decision-makers to ensure they understand the mechanisms we have in place to establish Covid-safe environments at business events ‚Äď which are controlled gatherings, not mass gatherings,‚ÄĚ Findlay said.
‚ÄúIf the infection rate continues to fall, we are quietly confident that we will see events return in 2020,‚ÄĚ she added.
Similar appeals to distinguish business events from ‚Äėmass gatherings‚Äô have been made by industry associations in New Zealand and Malaysia. In China, the State Council has already issued guidelines to clear the way to restart conferences and exhibitions.