The Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA) has welcomed this week’s clarification from the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Health that exhibitions are able to re-start immediately. The exhibitions can operate with no capacity limit but are subject to one person per four sqm and must enforce one-and-a-half-metre social distancing between participants.

EEAA chief executive Claudia Sagripanti said: “This is excellent news and a real boost in confidence for the exhibition and business events industries and the wide-range of businesses which make up the supply chain.

“Businesses, particularly those small and medium businesses, can plan their marketing efforts with some certainty to showcase and source new products and services, and to meet, trade and collaborate.

“The permission for exhibitions to go ahead in NSW, coupled with the Federal Government’s $50 million Business Events Grant Program, provides critical momentum towards re-energising the business events industry.

“The business events sector contributes more than $35 billion to GDP, runs over 430,000 events annually and employs more than 229,000 people.

“Exhibitions are a significant contributor to the Business Events sector and are by far the largest event type on a per event basis in terms of average direct expenditure and attendances per event.

“The sector is a major contributor to Australia both financially and for its ability to expand marketplaces by bringing together buyers and sellers and offering a platform for launching innovation and new product.”

Earlier this week it was announced that the International Convention Centre (ICC) Sydney will resume hosting exhibitions, having already confirmed two for February 2021: the Reed Gift Fairs and Life Instyle. Combined, these exhibitions are expected to generate more than $30 million for the state.

Commenting on the update, CEO of ICC Sydney Geoff Donaghy said: “The exhibition market accounts for approximately one quarter of our business, which in a typical year can be up to 70 events, so this updated advice from the NSW Department of Health is a significant step forward for the business events industry following the impact of COVID-19.”

“ICC Sydney’s Exhibition Centre boasts 35,000 sqm of internal exhibition space across seven halls, providing exhibitors and visitors’ ample space to trade with peace of mind. We are working closely with Reed Exhibitions to ensure stringent safety measures are in place.”

Conferences, at this stage, remain subject to NSW Government capacity limits of 300 people per event.