How long until we are able to organise events?
The opening of café and restaurant terraces in Slovenia brought incredible relief to all Slovenian caterers this week. Light at the end of a tunnel. Surprisingly, the terraces were not crowded and the guests showed responsibility and solidarity. A certain level of respect and compassion has spread in the hospitality industry. It seems that every coffee and lunch means a great deal to fellow sufferers. Grabbing a coffee gave me a feeling of social responsibility to the industry.
A bizarre paradox has occurred in Slovenia. Religious ceremonies that are classified as public events are allowed and all other events are still strictly prohibited. All of us who live off events are outraged, as this means that we are not equal before the law.
Germany, often considered a European role model, has started loosening measures connected to hosting events, except for large concerts and festivals that will stay banned until 31 August 2020. All of this under the condition that the coronavirus stays under control.
In my opinion, business events attended by responsible business people pose a much lower risk than random visitors socialising in a shopping centre. Moreover, professional event organisers provide trackability and prior communication about measures connected to COVID-19 with the attendees.
Due to economic reasons, European countries will start to allow all activities except for events, as they are a forbidden topic. This is the reason why we are fighting so hard in Slovenia. Fighting for the event industry and withdrawal of the ban. In one of our latest initiatives, we divided events into 4 categories, based on their risk connected to the spread of COVID-19:
1. INTERNAL EVENTS that mostly take place outdoors and are attended by people from the same company, organisation.
2. BUSINESS EVENTS such as conferences, congresses, corporate gatherings and fairs that require individual registration to attend.
3. OTHER EVENTS WITH INVITATION ONLY PARTICIPATION such as private events, weddings, celebrations etc.
4. EVENTS FOR THE WIDER PUBLIC encompass a wide spectre of events that pose different risks. These are (listed from lesser to greater health risk):
– fairs open to the public
– festivals, cultural events, where the attendees are sitting down
– parties, concerts, dances, where the attendees are mingling
As you can see from this categorisation, the ban on organising internal and business events can be lifted soon. After hygiene measures are coordinated with national public health institutes, other events could also be allowed. No matter how you twist it, we are the last on the list. I am glad that we have come together with fellow colleagues to prepare a comprehensive document of standards that we will try to coordinate with the National Institute of Public Health.
We are moving in the right direction and I think all meeting planners understand the responsibility that they will take on once events are allowed. Health is the number one priority. I still believe that we have enough common sense to act responsibly as organisers and attendees. If we communicate the measures appropriately, exposure can be managed much better than in shopping malls.
The Slovenian meetings industry brings great added value to the country. According to official information from the Slovenian Convention Bureau, the meetings industry employs over 11.000 people. The life’s of an additional 20.000 creatives depend on the industry; these are small business owners, artists, moderators, designers, photographers, interpreters and stage technicians.
The entire industry has hit rock bottom. Companies, who took part in our initiative, estimated the combined loss of profits to be around 115 million EUR in 2020 and over 1600 workplaces are in danger.
Ending uncertainty and stepping out of a state of hibernation will instil optimism into our industry and make the situation much more bearable.