The NEC in Birmingham, UK, has confirmed that the NHS Nightingale emergency hospital currently occupying the venue is to be decommissioned as the venue gets ready to reopen for events on 1 October.
In a letter to its clients, the Birmingham venue noted that the field hospital has been in hibernation since May and did not receive a single patient.
However, the venue said it would continue to support the NHS with the creation of a small non-Covid standby facility until March 2021. Management is keen to stress that the smaller facility will not affect the re-opening for event business.
The UK government has announced that conferences and exhibitions would be permitted in England from 1 October 2020.
The NEC responded: “After an immensely challenging period, this is the news we’ve all been waiting for and I believe it’s the first step for our industry on the path towards recovery. Clearly there will be challenges ahead and we are certainly not out of the woods just yet, but the fact that we can all start to plan with a clear go live date is great news.”
The NEC said the decommissioning process of the Nightingale hospital facility is well underway.
“We know there’s work to be done to rebuild customer confidence in live events and we’ll be doing everything we possibly can to help [clients] stage successful and safe events. The message from me is that the NEC is open for business from 1 October, so let’s work together and get back to doing what our industry does best – staging great live events,” said NEC Group CEO Paul Thandi.
ExCeL London, has also reacted to the UK government announcement that business events and conferences can restart from 1 October by outlining a reopening plan, for safe, organised events. Jeremy Rees, CEO, ExCeL London, said: “We are delighted that the government has confirmed the timetable for when business events and conferences can resume. Having played a full role in supporting the NHS, providing all of our facilities for the Nightingale hospital, we are now looking forward to playing an equally active role in the nation’s economic recovery. The vast majority of the venue (90%) has been restored to its original state, with the remaining space secured as equipment storage for NHS Nightingale. This ongoing support will not impact the normal operation of our venue and we look forward to hosting safe, secure, and successful business events and conferences from 1 October onwards.” ExCeL has been working with the UK’s AEV (Association of Event Venues) and other key stakeholders to develop the All Secure Standard, an industry wide benchmark to enable the safe return of organised events. In addition, the venue has developed its own set of safety principles to help guide customers through the event planning process, including new social distancing measures, cleaning regimes, F&B protocols and training, as detailed here.
SOURCE: Conference & Meetings World
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