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The successful return of business events across Australia will rely heavily on the regimental COVID safe planning by professional conference organisers, hotels, venues, exhibition suppliers and internal and external stakeholders. More than ever many people are longing to reconnect, network and learn in a face-to-face setting. As industry stakeholders we share a responsibility to build back consumer confidence and to do this we must demonstrate our commitment to plan covid safe events and deliver responsible business events.

 

COVID Safe Best Practice Principals  

It is important to recognise that across Australia each of the states and territories are at different stages of restrictions and reopening. It is critical to keep up to date with these restrictions as the situation continually evolves.

 

For reference, please see a short summary below which provides the current up-to-date meeting and event restrictions by state. For more information please your state or territory Government website.

 

Queensland

Indoor venues > 200sqm must allow an average of 4sqm per person. Venues < 200sqm can have up to 50 people allowing one person per 2sqm. Varying physical distancing measures required including signage and dedicated entry and exit access points.

 

New South Wales

Maximum of 300 people with 1 person per 4sqm indoors and 1 person per 2sqm outdoors (excl staff) whichever is less (excludes exhibitions and major facilities). Up to 30 people are now permitted per table at a corporate event and exhibitions can operate with no capacity limit, subject to 1 person per 4 sqm.

 

Northern Territory

There are currently no maximum capacity restrictions however, there are varying compliance approvals based on the size of the event; and a recommendation to keep 1.5m physical distance.

<100 people – must consider physical distancing and hygiene principles. For events between 100 – 500 people must complete COVID-19 safety checklist; may be required to comply with additional legislative requirements.

 

Victoria

No events currently permitted; restrictions are expected to be in place until at least 23 November 2020.

 

South Australia

There are currently no maximum capacity restrictions for indoor business events provided there is a COVID Safe Plan and an average of 1 person per 2sqm. For events of 1000+ people a COVID Management Plan is required and a COVID marshal is required for all events.

 

Australian Capital Territory

1 person per 4sqm for indoor spaces and 1 person per 2sqm for outdoor spaces, to a maximum of 200 people with a COVID Safety Event Plan. Large indoor seated venues can reach 50% capacity, up to 1000 for ticketed events.

 

Western Australia

No maximum capacity restrictions, provided there is 1 person per 2sqm (excludes major facilities and selected venues).

 

Since the onset of COVID in March peak industry bodies have been working closely with government officials, industry stakeholders and bureau’s to implement a framework and best practice principals for the safe return of business events.

 

The Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) formally established a Safety and Hygiene Subcommittee which developed a guideline focusing on five key areas of advice for managing the safe planning and return to business events. The BECA COVID Safe Guideline is one resource professional conference organisers are calling on during the safe planning for business events.

 

COVID Safe Plans

The National COVID-19 Commission Advisory Board, recognizes that COVID could be with us for quite some time and encourages all businesses to develop a COVID Safe Plan. Many states across Australia are mandating this for particular types of businesses and organisations as a prerequisite for operation. Nationwide, all hospitality venues must have a registered COVID safe plan.

 

The purpose of a COVID safe plan is to establish and outline protocols that will enable a business or organisation to successfully fulfil their obligations to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19 on their premises.

 

COVID Planning

It is no doubt the effects of this pandemic have had a crippling effect across all Australian venues and accommodation providers. You won’t be surprised to know this sector will be working side by side with PCOs to provide customers and clients with confidence to get back to attending business events across Australia.

 

Like countless venues, Melbourne Pullman on the Park has had an incredibly tough road in 2020. The team however have been working tirelessly in the background to redesign operational standards, elevate and increase their cleaning procedures and design a safe journey at every touch point that protects their guests and employees. Angela Vickers, Associate Director of Sales at Pullman Melbourne on the Park said “being able to promote and demonstrate that we are extremely diligent with cleanliness and safety will provide more confidence to our customers”. It’s important to note venues just like Melbourne Pullman are doing amazing work to get customers safely back into there venues.

Along with venues implementing new hygiene procedures, a range of the following measures are also being implemented and considered across venue, accommodation, exhibition and travel in accordance with best practices and government restrictions:

Transport

ü  Frequent PA announcements on social distancing.

ü  Numerous hand sanitising stations located throughout airports.

ü  Social distance marking at baggage carousels, entry and exit points and across public transport.

ü  Increased frequency of cleaning especially high touch areas.

Venue

ü  Increased frequency of cleaning especially high touch areas.

ü  COVID-19 related staff training

ü  Adjusted shift start times to promote physical distancing of employees

ü  Masks and gloves worn by all employees

ü  COVID-safe food and beverage service

ü  Dedicated separate entrance and exits

ü  Temperature scanning

 

Exhibition

ü  Implementation of COVID safe plans for contractors

ü  Adjusted labour scheduling to minimize staff being across multiple projects

ü  Increased product cleanliness and sanitation

ü  Installation of Perspex screens at registration desks

ü  New initiatives such as smart badge, temperature scanning points, sanitizing stations and signage

ü  Trade floorplans with larger aisles and footprints to accommodate sqm restrictions

Accommodation

ü  Gloved & masked welcome greeter offers hand sanitizer and mask upon arrival

ü  Welcome greeter manages queues to promote physical distancing

ü  Mandatory screening for all guests, which may include a temperature check

ü  Contactless checkin, self-park, self luggage

ü  No housekeeping service while guest is in room

ü  “Wellness kits” provided in each room (masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, etc.)

 

Another huge consideration moving forward with COVID safe planning is understanding the financial risk posed whilst planning a COVID safe business event in the current climate. Kate Griffiths, Business Development Manager at The Emporium Hotel Brisbane said “The hotel recoginised early on the impact COVID had across all industries as such we have been flexible with our cancelation conditions. We have been releasing external group room blocks without penalty and re-contracting for future years. From a conference and events perspective we have been holding deposits for future use within a 12month timeframe or full refunds, each option has been well received with clients already coming back and confirming future events or more intimate events”. It is crucial to be able to negotiate COVID clauses with your hotel or venue provider to ensure you can mitigate risk as much as possible during this time.

Whilst planning a business event in the current environment may be a daunting task it is possible to deliver a COVID safe event. More than ever industry stakeholders, professional conference organisers and venue and accommodation providers are diligently working to deliver a calendar of COVID safe events in 2021.

Need help planning your next business event or just want some advice on how to navigate the current market conditions? Please get in touch with a member of the BCC Management team – info@bccm.com.au