Conference chiefs warn of up to 1.2m job losses from Covid chaos
BRITAIN’S £70bn-a-year exhibitions and events industry faces a near-total collapse because of new controls to halt the spread of coronavirus, business chiefs have said.
Leaders from the sector, which employs or supports 1.5m jobs, say restrictions announced by Boris Johnson on Tuesday that limit the size of gatherings, and that could place curfews on some events, are likely to mean redundancies as high as 80pc across the sector.
They are calling for the Government to give clarity on how the controls – which could be in place for six months, if not longer – apply to the sector.
With events such as conferences, trade fairs and all but the smallest of weddings and other social occasions effectively shut down by the measures, they also want support similar to that which has been provided to some other areas of the economy.
Jane Longhurst, chief executive of the Meetings Industry Association, said the sector had been gearing up to reopen on Oct 1 until the “rule of six” limit left it “facing an abyss”, with the most recent measures threatening to kill off an industry already on life support. She said: “We’re working on the principle we can run events for 30 people as the guidance hasn’t changed – but it could well do so and the lack of clarity is a nightmare.”
Simon Hughes, chairman of trade body the Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP), said: “Redundancy rates as high as 80pc are realistic without some sort of support.”
He added that even if the controls end after six months, it will take longer for the industry to gear up again because of the long planning period needed to organise major events.