Dinner tests guidelines ahead of business meetings restart

Dec 02, 2020

The Woodlands Events Centre at Wyboston Lakes

A MOCK gala dinner to test the government’s Covid-Secure guidelines for business events to resume has taken place at Wyboston Lakes in Bedfordshire.

The event for 120 people took place ahead of the latest announcement permitting business meetings for up to 1,000 people indoors to restart. The dinner at Wyboston Lakes’ Woodlands Event Centre was run in accordance with the Covid-Secure guidelines and was observed by officials from Public Health England. 

It was organised by the resort and the Meetings Industry Association. The conference, meetings and training venue was recommended to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport as part of the mia’s regular liaison with Whitehall. The trade association’s roadmap is being signposted as a key resource in the government’s and UK hospitality’s guidance. 

mia chief executive Jane Longhurst said: “As Wyboston Lakes Resort was the first venue to achieve our enhanced AIM Secure accreditation and has hosted key worker training through the worst of the pandemic, we knew they were well placed to be one of the venues to host the government’s pilot events.

“Together we were able to showcase how, by adopting the guidelines and using the relevant tools, the sector can host business meetings and events can in a safe and secure way.” 

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The trade association managed the pre-registration work and used its miaTrustedTrace tool to health screen, collect and manage delegate details, which included DCMS and Public Health England staff and event industry professionals. Detailed guidance was issued to guests before the event, including on queuing and registration processes on the day.

Steve Jones

Wyboston Lakes managing director Steve Jones is chair of the Meetings Industry Association. “We were delighted to be one of the government’s pilot events and to be able to test the guidelines that have been developed by the government with the help of industry associations, including the mia, and to contribute to the reopening of the whole of the events sector,” he said.

Wyboston Lakes Resort’s ‘Safe Events Plan’ had been tried and tested throughout the UK’s first lockdown. The venue remained open to provide facilities for essential training for the National Crime Agency and for NHS paramedics for the NHS.

It has also run Covid-Secure meetings for less than 30 people.

Key measures already in place at the venue and utilised during the pilot event included thermal imaging technology, test, track and trace data collection, online pre-registration, one-way systems, strict cleaning and sanitising processes and a maximum of three guests per table. 

Mr Jones said: “We received outstanding feedback on how well it was run and while there were a few learnings for everyone, I think we really showed that the industry has strong, safe and highly effective plans in place and organisers can be confident about booking and arranging business events. The industry guidelines and procedures are now tried and tested.”

Government restrictions implemented from today (December 2), when the second national lockdown ended, allows business meetings for up to 1,000 people to take place indoors at venues in a region with an appropriate tier.

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