Momentum for reopening of business, including venues, is gathering pace, at least in Europe, where Austria has declared itself open for conventions and exhibitions again and Italy gave its regions the power to decide when to reopen for business events. Lombardy has set a restart date of 14 July.
Conventions are possible again in Austria, with new regulations coming into place on 15 June.
Austrian Minister for Tourism, Elisabeth Köstinger, announced the decision, saying: “Tradefairs and congresses can now take place in Austria again. The necessary regulation has now been completed and will come into force (15 June).
“This road map, as well as clear and simple rules, give the industry the necessary perspective and planning security.”
The move has been welcomed for many other industries, too, from the hotel industry, catering, gastronomy, technology and security providers, as an essential next step. Around 21,000 events take place in Austria each year, involving 1.7m people. And the average congress tourist spends €500 a day.
“The entire event industry has suffered greatly from the corona-related restrictions of the past few months,” said Köstinger. “It is important that operations can now be started up again. Clear and simple rules and a concrete timetable give the industry prospects again.”
Travellers arriving in Austria, however must produce a medical certificate proving a negative Covid-19 test. The certificate cannot be more than four days’ old.
Major events can also restart in Lombardy, Italy, from 14 July and large public events have been permitted in Estonia since 1 June, with a maximum of 1,000 people for outdoor events and 500 for indoor events, at 50% maximum capacity.
The national convention bureau CBItalia also issued a statement, 15 June, saying Italy was ready to open up again. “We are happy to tell you that more and more of our regions are beginning to allow events, meetings and congresses to take place,” the statement ran.
“At last our country is once again able to breathe an air of renewed hope and with this there is the good news that very many of our companies are putting in place all the specific protocols to resume their normal activities. We’re talking about large hospitality facilities, hotel chains, hotels and congress centres that are now in compliance with the new health regulations and so, as of today, have all the requisites to welcome guests in total safety,” CBItalia added.
A general easing of restrictions is underway across Europe, although there is a patchwork approach, with almost as many variations on regulations as countries.
While some travel ‘bubbles’, such as in the Baltic region, have opened up, the advice is to consult government travel advisories given that the situation is changing fast.