Latest News: COVID-19 and the events industry (24 March)
Today, the UK begins a new chapter in the fight against COVID-19.
After the PM’s announcement last night, we’re officially on lockdown. That means strict new measures are in place ensuring that, for the next 3 weeks at least, we’ll be staying home to save lives and protect the NHS.
So, as the coronavirus crisis continues to escalate, how is our industry staying positive and dealing with the many challenges ahead?
Petition for govt to create emergency fund for freelancers during COVID-19
There has been plenty of discussion and debate around how the government should support small businesses over the coming months. But what about the smallest businesses of all—the self-employed?
The Budget measures give some support, but not enough. So a petition has been set up calling on the UK government to create a Temporary Income Protection Fund, designed to keep freelancers afloat during the coronavirus crisis. The petition has already surpassed the 100,000 signatures needed for parliament to consider a debate—but the more support, the better.
UK venues reveal impact of COVID-19
UK venues and hotels have been hit hard by the COVID-19 situation. A survey by NFS Technology Group this week found that, with no clear end date to the lockdown, 90% of venues are seeing events postponed to July 2020 and beyond.
Though this is having a devastating effect on bookings and occupancy in the short-term, postponed events mean Q3/4 slots are filling up fast—so if you’re planning an event later in the year, it might be time to think about making a reservation. This is a constructive step for event profs to take at a time when so much is out of our control. And for venues and hotel groups, this may well be a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.
From venues to hospitals
Following these sweeping event cancellations, empty venues and hotels are stepping up to serve a very different purpose during the fight against COVID-19.
Since the start of the outbreak, several countries have been using empty hotels to quarantine incoming travellers and, later on, as overflow facilities for hospitals. This may soon become the case in the UK, as major hotel chains enter into discussions with the government about turning properties into makeshift hospitals and accommodation for NHS staff—once again proving the resilience and resourcefulness of our industry during times of disruption.
Urgent appeal for farm workers
Last week, we appealed for NHS volunteers to help keep the UK safe. This week, we’re seeking farm workers to help keep the UK fed.
If you’ve been made redundant in recent weeks, growers across Angus, Perthshire, and Fife are looking for workers; thousands of which will be needed from May onwards, as restrictions on the movement of people from Eastern Europe risk produce being left to rot in fields. The National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS) is working on a web page that will connect farmers to those seeking local work, and they’ll be looking to recruit from within hard-hit sectors in particular.
The recruitment page will be live on nfus.org.uk soon—but you can find out more about the appeal here in the meantime.
Self-isolation → self-improvement
We like to end these things on a positive note. So…if you’re stuck in self-isolation, or just unsure what to do with your time during lockdown, we’ve got a suggestion.
Did you know, lots of universities around the world offer their courses online for free? Yep, that’s right. FREE. And there’s a course for every discipline—from Maths, Business Studies, and Data Science; to Social Science, Humanities, and Art & Design (this list should give you an idea of what’s out there). With an unexpected amount of spare time on our hands, perhaps it’s time to try something new?
Because this crisis will not last forever. We will get through this. And investing in this kind of personal development will ensure that, when we do, we’ll be better than ever.
Stay home, stay safe, stay in touch.