With small events for up to 30 people currently allowed to go ahead at Covid Secure venues, the big question remains, what will large events and conferences be like when they are allowed to go ahead from October 1? Events stopped at the beginning of the lock-down in March 2020 and it seems likely the live events industry, which employs one million people in the UK and is conservatively worth around £100 billion, will be one of the last to recover.
Southampton and Hampshire are very much open for small events up to 30 people and enquiries for larger events from 1st October 2020 at venues which are Covid Secure, are welcome. Large indoor events from October are expected to resume, following final confirmation from the government expected in the coming weeks.
Clearly the way larger business events and gatherings from October will be allowed to take place in a post-Covid world has changed – and organisers need to be prepared. Venue capacities will be reduced. So for example, the Southampton Harbour Hotel, will be able to host 43 people theatre style in their largest room, whereas pre-Covid they could accommodate 250 theatre style. St Mary’s Stadium will be able to host an event for up to 130 guests in a room that usually holds 500. Leonardo Royal, another of the city’s major venues, will safely accommodate up to 250 theatre style when the industry re-opens in their Mayflower Suite.
The usual social interaction during coffee breaks and lunch will be very different. In many cases, catering will be delivered to the meeting room in sealed containers and bags. All delegate attendee information must be captured by each venue for NHS Track and Trace. Many venues are offering complimentary face coverings, temperature checks and all venues have sanitising stations and social distance signage in place to keep meeting delegates safe.
Shirley Wynne-Jones, Event Director at Destination Southampton Conference Bureau, said: “Enquiries from organisers of events for training and meetings plus larger enquiries for conferences and banquets, mostly for 2021 are being received at the bureau.
“We are working hard to raise awareness that smaller gatherings up to 30 people can take place in Southampton and Hampshire. Throughout these challenging times I have kept in touch with venue bookers and venues and we are all supporting each other.
“At the same time I have written to our local MPs and Chancellor Rishi Sunak sharing our grave concerns for the future of the live conference and event industry.”
The team at the bureau are here to help, get in touch Enquiries@destinationsouthampton.com