Keep an eye on England in the next couple months: It’s planning a series of pilot events in advance of a return to large-scale conferences, just announced for October 1. The pilot events will test how to implement the social distancing practices that the government has outlined for the safe return of business meetings.
“Business events and conferences are a key part of our visitor economy and this is an important step in getting them back up and running safely,” said England’s Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston. “Pilots will help inform our plans for the return of the sector in October, with guests and staff adhering to social distancing and [logistical] measures introduced to reduce close contact.”
The return to business is conditional on positive trends in coronavirus cases, and conference organizers in England will need to follow eight rules laid out by the government:
• Attendees will need to pre-book and pre-register to attend events.
• Contactless registration systems will be introduced at venues to reduce waiting times and limit contact between organizers and guests.
• A digital-first approach will be adopted to eliminate the need for physical badges and lanyards.
• Paper handouts and gifts will no longer be offered.
• Entrances to conference spaces will be staggered to reduce lines, and overall capacity will be limited to ensure social distancing can be maintained.
• Events will be planned around one-way systems for visitors.
• Spaces between exhibition booths will be increased and aisles widened to achieve social distancing requirements.
• Venues will have enhanced cleaning procedures, with hand washing and sanitizing facilities at frequent intervals.