BECA delivers COVIDSafe guidelines to government in bid for events exemption

The Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) is pushing for an exemption from the federal government’s COVID-19 three-step plan.

BECA and its safety and hygiene subcommittee are seeking to work closely with officials to ensure a distinction can be made between “highly organised and managed” business events in controlled settings from mass gatherings, to further expedite the industry’s recovery.

The news follows the unveiling of the federal government’s plan to lift coronavirus restrictions across the country, which would include a three-step process of re-openings that did not include exemptions for business events.

While the second and third phase of the three-step plan allow gatherings of up to 20 to 100 people, respectively, in neither of the three phases was there mention of the possibility of large scale events, exhibitions or conferences returning.

Joining the push by BECA are fellow Australian and New Zealand event bodies the Event Association of Australasia and Conventions & Incentives New Zealand, which are seeking to ensure a distinction can be made between mass gatherings and organised events.

According to BECA, the development of its ‘COVIDSafe Guidelines for Business Events’ would underpin the distinction, and allow for the “rapid restart” and “reinvigoration” of business events and the many businesses, industry groups and associations that rely on these for success.

A recent report from BECA showed the Australian economy could be set for a $35.7 billion loss over the next 12 months, as the impact of COVID-19 ensures businesses will take a hit – with Australia’s events sector currently chewing through at least $2.5 billion per month.

However, in separate reports from the Association of Australian Convention Bureaux, forward calendars show once events get back up-and-running, they are expected to bring some 400,000 delegates to Australia, contributing more than $1 billion to the economy over the next seven years.

“The government’s three-step framework is a positive step forward for the business events industry,” BECA chair Dr Vanessa Findlay said.

“There is a recognition by government in that framework that given the right operating environment, larger gatherings can be considered.

“We must now work closely with officials to ensure we can increase gathering numbers for businesses events, which will be critical for the industry’s rapid recovery, as well as that of the many businesses that rely on its success and wider Australian economy.”

Findlay added that the establishment of the safety and hygiene subcommittee would be an important step in the process.

“Clear industry guidelines for hygiene and safety will provide government with the confidence to lift restrictions and for organisers to rebook and hold events as soon as possible,” she said.

“We’re also working with individual state and territory jurisdictions to ensure clarity and consistency across the country so that delegates can travel interstate to attend business events.”

According to BECA, the new guidelines focus on five key areas, providing advice on managing a business event during the planning phase, the event itself and following the event.

The guidelines will be applied, adapted and implemented in a fit for purpose way across the business events industry to ensure “the highest levels of COVID safety”, and would remain a living document.

This would be updated and reviewed as knowledge of the virus grows, health advice develops and the industry gains experience in best-practice safety and hygiene regimes, BECA said.

For more information on the Business Events Council of Australia’s ‘COVIDSafe guidelines’ click here.

Featured image: iStock/designer491