Is it “freedom day” for the meetings & events industry?

Is it “freedom day” for the meetings & events industry?

July 19 2021, marked ‘Freedom Day’ in England – the date when most legal restrictions in the country were lifted and venues were allowed to open with no capacity limits or social distancing measures, (although the government stressed the need for personal responsibility, and many are choosing to continue wearing face masks).

If all goes well, other parts of the UK are planning to follow, with Wales hoping to open fully on August 7th, Scotland on August 9th and a tentative date of 26th July set for Northern Ireland.

Outside of the UK, many other countries in Europe have already relaxed their regulations, including France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Greece, Poland, Spain, Belgium, Portugal, The Netherlands, Republic of Ireland and Sweden. And while we may not be completely back to ‘normal’ yet, as individual countries have varying rules and travel restrictions, it’s certainly a step in the right direction and one which many event organisers have embraced as they begin to organise events once more.

Together again

In the UK, DRPG met in-person for its annual company-wide summer conference. The hybrid event welcomed 380 people in-person to its studio complex in Worcestershire, along with additional team members who joined virtually from across the world.

The group split into 40 campfire sessions with the aim of reaffirming the company’s vision and values, and to discuss issues around mental health and work-life balance as they plan to make their way back into the office and find their new ‘normal’.

Over 80 people had been employed by the company during the pandemic, and for many this was their first face-to-face meeting with their colleagues.

Festival spirit

In Spain, Barcelona’s much-loved Cruilla festival went ahead at the Parc del Fòrum on July 8, 9 and 10. There were 52,000 attendees over three days, making it a musical event with the largest audience numbers in Spain and one of the largest in Europe, with a capacity of 25,000 per day (not far off the usual 30,000).

Safety at the event was aided by the fact that it was outdoors, and many of the artists were national (which negated the need for international travel). Attendees were required to take a test every day, and face masks were given out at the entrance. Physical distancing however was not required.

Tests were carried out in a large field hospital-style setting, with a large number of medical staff on hand to prevent queues. Indeed, the daily testing at the event has been praised for its quick identification of those who were Covid-positive, who may otherwise have spread it unknowingly in their daily lives.

Eric Mottard, reporting on the event for Eventoplus commented: “Since the beginning of the pandemic, I don’t think I have seen such collective joy and excitement. Smiles, laughter, hugs, and the feeling of being a community united by this passion for music. Events are great.”

Flying high

In the US, airline executives are remaining positive about ticket sales, possibly because a high number of their customers are fully vaccinated.

Although concerns about the delta variant are causing uncertainty in the airline market, industry spokespeople have commented that those with flights booked are more likely to go ahead with them if they have been vaccinated, compared to this time last year.

“We haven’t seen any impact at all on bookings, which continue to just get stronger and stronger every week,” United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby commented, as more than two million people a day, mostly summer vacationers, flock to U.S. airports.

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