Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) chair Vanessa Findlay has welcomed the government’s three-step framework for lifting COVID-19 restrictions and confirmed there is an opportunity to work with government on expanding the measures for business events.
The framework, which has been given specific timelines by each state and territory, allows for gatherings of 10 people in step one, 20 people in step two and up to 100 people in step three.
Findlay said last Friday’s announcement was a positive step forward for the business events industry.
“Pleasingly, everything we could have hoped to be included in that framework has been included, so in step two and three there are options for us to reopen business events,” she told Spice News.
Increased gatherings for business events
While the relaxing of restrictions is moving at promising pace, Findlay said the sector has the opportunity to work with the government to increase the gathering numbers for business events.
This comes following the government’s acknowledgement of the distinction between mass gatherings and controlled gatherings, such as business events.
“You’ll see in step two the maximum number of people allowed together is 20, but there has been an allowance given for larger numbers in some circumstances so we will continue to work with government to increase the number of people that can gather in a controlled way under the safety and hygiene guidelines that we’re working on at the moment,” she said.
“In step three, 100 people is the viable number. Ideally, we’d like to increase that and again we’ve got that opportunity with recognition that controlled events may be allowed in certain circumstances.
“We don’t have any commitments from government at the moment, but we’ve been given the opening and we’ll continue our work to do that.”
BECA has been working on its own COVID-19 response and recovery framework in recent weeks and has been in close talks with state and federal governments to ensure the events industry is supported and recognised.
“Last week we focussed on developing one of the components of the framework which was the safety and hygiene guidelines,” said Findlay.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Findlay said the easing of restrictions is tracking ahead of what many had predicted.
“[We are] probably slightly ahead of the schedule that we would have predicted when this whole thing first hit and definitely ahead of where a lot of clients [predicted] with regards to their confidence around whether they could retain their booking or rebook,” she said.
“So we’re pleased and feeling somewhat optimistic at the moment, but quietly optimistic.”
In the meantime, Findlay said allowing gatherings of up to 100 people makes reopening viable for many event venues.
“One hundred is that magic number for business events,” she said.