On July 1st, Lombardy lifted the restrictions on the organisation of congresses, events, and exhibitions. These and other areas of activity are the subjects of the measures approved in an Ordinance signed by the regional governor Attilio Fontana to supplement the Prime Ministerial Decree of June 11th, 2020. The provisions approved in the Ordinance are indicated as valid until July 14th. From July 10th, events in clubs and dance halls will also resume. Does this mean that it is possible to start organizing events and trade shows again? Yes, but with a number of measures and numerous limitations, which apply to the events industry, the catering industry, the tourism industry. and all commercial, institutional, and private activities involving the aggregation of people. The measures are the result of an in-depth analysis of the current situation. The spread of the virus has been successfully contained in the region, as in the rest of Italy, and the curve is flat enough that it is deemed safe to ease most of the restrictions that came into place between February and March. However, the scientific community’s recommendations have also been taken into account, in order to prevent the dreaded “second wave”.
Congresses, events and trade shows: security measures still apply
Events industry professionals greeted the news with great enthusiasm and are willing to reorganise their activities to comply with all the required safety measures. Many of these are similar in every respect to those already in place for all other public activities. The obligation to wear masks or equivalent devices to cover the nose and mouth is confirmed, even outdoors, with the exception of those who carry out intense motor activities such as restaurants and shops. In open-air venues where shows are held with a seated audience, such as arenas and cinemas, there is no obligation to wear a mask while seated. It is however compulsory to wear mouth and nose protection when entering, leaving, or moving about the premises. All venues are also required to train their staff on prevention measures, to make disinfectant gel dispenser available to the public, to prioritise reservations over walk-ins and keep a record of attendees names for 14 days, to facilitate electronic payments, and to take the appropriate measures to ensure attendees can keep the require one-metre distance at all times. They are also required to take the attendee’s temperature before they allow them into the venue and to report suspected cases immediately. Finally, all premises uses for public gatherings must be disinfected periodically.
Clubs, discos and dance halls: we start again on July 10th
Dance halls and clubs will be allowed to reopen too, starting from July 10th, and while the security measures they will be required to implement have not been divulged yet, they are expected to be similar, if not identical, to those required for events, congresses, and trade shows. Doubts have been raised as to how social distancing will be enforced during events that include dancing and live music, but no definitive answers have been given at the time of writing this post.
What does all this mean for event organizers?
Those who organise events, congresses, trade shows, exhibitions, and conferences obviously welcomed the lifting of restrictions on their main activities. However, this does not mean that event organisers can go back to normal just yet. Above all, those who organise commercial events, whose sustainability is based on ticket sales, will be faced with much higher costs (linked to disinfection and protective measures), but with an inevitably reduced clientele due to the need to ensure social distancing. At the moment, an integration between events in the traditional sense and digital tools seems to be the best solution to guarantee audience sizes large enough to make events economically sustainable.