June 21st – Event of the Year?
Will they? Won’t they? No, we’re not talking about Boris and Carrie. No, not Ross and Rachel from the Friends Reunion either. We all know that they did. We’re talking about whether social distancing restrictions will end on the 21st of June. Why? Because surely the event of the year will be the news that large scale events and conferences are allowed to resume.
What do we know so far?
According to The Evening Standard, tests of crowd events have been taking place as organised trials. The trial events held indoors included The World Snooker Championship, The Brit Awards (where people were allowed to mingle without masks), and a Nightclub event held in Liverpool over two days (again without masks).
The Evening Standard also reported that Oliver Dowden (the Culture Secretary) found the results to be encouraging. No cases of Covid were recorded from the Brit Awards, four cases occurred over the 17day Snooker Championship, but nine cases occurred over the 2 days of the nightclub event.
The Culture Secretary is also reported to have indicated that the Brits results offer hope for the West End and indoor events of a larger scale.
The Standard concluded that the nightclub results could be problematic.
What will happen from the 21st onwards?
Theoretically, if the government’s four requirements are met, all legal limits of social contact will be removed.
- the vaccine deployment programme continues successfully
- evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated
- infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS
- our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern
If these four tests are met and legal limits are lifted, then large-scale events and conferences should get the green light.
What about international conferences and events?
Here’s the catch. Large-scale events might well be allowed to take place within the UK. However, that is not to say that they will. The government continues (at the time of writing) to advise against all non-essential travel. It is unclear whether this advice will remain in place post June 21st. With many countries still on the red list, organisers for certain events may well decide that, without tourism, some events are not feasible.
Furthermore, travel restrictions are worth considering. For example, on the 12 February 2021, it was reported that the UK government could place countries on the red list with ‘almost no notice’. A further complication is that other countries may also change their own guidance. This could mean they do not permit UK citizens to travel to them.
Reason to be Optimistic.
June 21st is but one date of many. If the global vaccination effort proves successful, we could see international conferences and events return by Quarter 4. Or, at least, in part. At this juncture though, we’d say that lifting of national restrictions would be a win.