Insight: Issue 80 (23 Feb)
There’s good news…and there’s bad news.
Firstly, the good news! Well, it looks like we’re finally moving from pandemic to endemic, as UK governments unveil their respective ‘living with Covid’ plans. The bad news? Well…..potentially World War 3.
Never mind, a healthy dose of some top quality events news should temporarily lighten the shadow of impending doom. And so onward…..this week, we have:
Uk and Scottish Governments roll out their ‘living with Covid’ guidelines; O2 Arena back in double-quick time after storm chaos; ExCeL London gets a digital makeover; Culture and events sectors finally get some support funding after Omicron; and Chinese tech dazzles us all at the Winter Olympics. We continue….
UK and Scottish governments unveil plans to ‘live with Covid’
Yes indeed, it now looks like we’ve shifted on these fair isles from ‘pandemic’ to ‘endemic’, which can only be good news for events profs and planners everywhere.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced an end to all remaining Covid restrictions, including the legal requirement to self-isolate. However, in true Johnson style an element of ambiguity remains, with recommendations for anyone who tests positive to stay at home for at least five full days. Crucially, Covid tests will no longer be free from April 1 and the use of Covid Passports will no longer be recommended.
As has been the pattern throughout the pandemic, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was more cautious in her announcements. However, key takeaways were:
– Vaccine passports scrapped from Monday
– Legal requirement for masks changes to guidance from March 21st
– However the First Minister warns Covid still presents a risk
We’re obviously delighted to see this significant step back to a semblance of normality and hopefully a rejuvenation for the events sector. However, caution is certainly still advised through sensible public health behaviour to ensure we don’t regress due to a new and more serious outbreak. But the future for 2022 certainly looks brighter event profs!
O2 Arena back after Eunice
Following extensive damage by Storm Eunice to the exterior of the O2 Arena, we’re delighted to report it will now reopen this Friday, following quickfire repairs to the roof.
In a statement the venue said, “The O2 prides itself on being a venue full of entertainment but following Friday’s storm, we’re not quite looking our best. We want to continue to provide a safe and secure best-in-class experience for our visitors, so we have made the decision to remain closed until Friday, 25 February, to give us time to carry out some necessary works on our roof.”
The venue will reopen with a UB40 gig, so all being well a good bit of red red wine will be free-flowing this Friday.
ExCeL completes Digital Transformation Programme
The mighty London-based venue the ExCeL had now put the finishing touches to Phase II of its extensive digital transformation project.
Multiple state-of-the-art LED screens have been installed in and around its campus, with a view to improving wayfinding for visitors and providing ‘immediate, dynamic and responsive’ messaging throughout an event’s tenancy.
The venue’s chief commercial officer Simon Mills said: “Investing in the venue is something we are continually doing from our extensive 25,000sqm expansion due in 2024, through to future proofing our IT infrastructure or providing more diverse and sustainably-focused food and beverage offerings.
“We are now able to provide all event organisers and their exhibitors with enhanced, bespoke promotion for their event, something we feel is especially important during multiple tenancies.”
Culture and events sectors to benefit from £16 million
Further support for culture recovery via the Government’s Omicron Business Support Fund has been announced. This £16 million worth of funding for this financial year will be allocated as follows:
£16 million funding for this financial year is being allocated as follows:
• £12 million to Creative Scotland towards support for a hardship fund for creative freelancers, a recovery fund for cultural organisations and for Edinburgh Festivals celebrating their 75th year. Details of these funds will be announced next week by Creative Scotland.
• £2 million for EventScotland to increase the total support for EventScotland’s national and international events programmes.
• £2 million additional support for the Museums Recovery Fund to support a wider range of museums to recover from the pandemic.
Iain Munro, Creative Scotland’s Chief Executive said:
“This additional funding from the Scottish Government is very welcome and will provide a lifeline for many in the culture sector who have lost income as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
“We are working quickly to get this funding to those who need it most. Details of how creative freelancers and cultural organisations can apply for the funding will be communicated shortly.”
A small amount, all things considered, but certainly long overdue.
Chinese tech shines at Winter Olympics
And finally….one of our favourite topics – tech.
As Beijing prepares to close the 2022 Winter Olympics, our friends at TechNode have selected five notable pieces of technology built by Chinese companies that left an impression during the two-week games.
From 8k floor displays and Virtual Hosts, to remote-controlled Smart Beds and real-time Live Translations, the Winter Games was packed with dazzling tech which will no doubt become a part of all of our lives over the next few years.
Until then, here’s some Hasselhoff.