September 8, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

Ahead of appearing at a webinar for Meetings and Events Australia (MEA) today, Australian epidemiologist Catherine Bennett has warned that major events will be the last thing to return even when Australia hits the 80 percent vaccination target to move to the second last phase of the national plan to reopen the country and live with COVID-19.

In a submission to publication Public Health Research and Practice, Bennett says masks indoors and a ban on large gatherings will be the last restrictions to ease “although large events will no doubt happen sooner if we go the way of adopting vaccine passports as have other countries”.

It is worth noting that the Doherty Institute modelling, upon which the national reopening plan is based, suggests significant levels of restrictions will need to be in place at 80 percent vaccination in order to contain COVID-19 outbreaks to manageable levels. The modelling suggests restrictions in place in NSW in August 2020, which limited corporate events to 150 attendees with the one person per four square metre rule, may be enough to keep the lid on outbreaks.

MEA’s webinar, being held in place of the Evolve national conference which should have taken place in Melbourne today but has been postponed to 2022 due to COVID-19 outbreaks across multiple states, will be a good opportunity to leverage Bennett’s expertise to understand what the industry should expect once Australia begins to reopen.