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UK business events, exhibitions and conferences - Government guidance

UK business events, exhibitions and conferences will be permitted to resume from the 1st of October 2020, provided they adhere to social distancing measures and rates of infection remain at current levels.

A number of pilots will take place at event venues across the country to plan for a return to large-scale events and test how best to implement social distancing practises. Details of these pilots will be finalised in partnership with the events sector in the coming weeks.

In a recent survey only 35% of life science professionals questioned said they would be happy to attend an in-person event in the last quarter of 2020, within their local country, and only 21% said they would be happy to attend an overseas event. If in-person events are to take off again, then the correct approach will need to be actioned in order to make attendees, delegates and exhibitors feel comfortable.

The UK Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport and the Association of Event Organisers have published a new set of guidelines* to help event organisers, venue operators and participants in the UK understand how they can work and host business events and conferences and keep both their guests and staff safe. The new guidelines include the following:

  • Attendees will need to pre-book and pre-register to attend events

  • Contactless registration systems will be introduced at venues to reduce waiting times and limit contact between organisers and guests

  • A digital first approach will be adopted to eliminate the need for physical badges and lanyards

  • Paper handouts and gifts will no longer be offered

  • Entrance to event or conference spaces will be staggered to reduce queuing and overall capacity will be limited to ensure social distancing can be maintained

  • Events will be planned around one way systems for visitors

  • Spaces between exhibition booths will be increased and aisles widened to achieve social distancing requirements

  • All venues will also have enhanced cleaning procedures, with hand washing and sanitising facilities at frequent intervals

* Guidance published 17th July 2020. It should be noted that this guidance will be for organisations in England. Organisations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should adhere to the advice of the devolved administrations at all times.


The new guidance may lead to some practical marketing requirements, for example, you may need to think about exhibition booth design to ensure it will allow for social distancing requirements. Delegate packs would need to be sent out prior to an event. Contactless systems will need to be adopted in order to capture lead information. Rapid fulfilment will be required for providing delegates with post show marketing collateral.

With limitations on traditional engagement activities such as offering gifts, handouts or in-person games, thought will be needed on how to really build engagement with attendees, perhaps by utilising more visual elements and graphics.

To view the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport and the Association of Event Organisers guidelines please visit - gov.uk


Polymorphic Marketing aims to support your business through challenging times, we offer scalable and creative marketing services to the life science industry - contact us for further information




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