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Trade fair industry body says 30,000 jobs at risk if events can't resume

Events such as trade fairs and exhibitions were cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Getty

An industry body representing the UK events sector has warned 30,000 jobs are at risk due to increased uncertainty about when trade fairs and exhibitions could resume.

The Events Industry Alliance (EIA) which represents Britain’s event organisers, venues and suppliers is calling on the government to set a date for reopening.

The EIA said companies would need at least eight to 12 weeks to restart exhibitions and trade fairs, warning that an estimated 60% of the sector’s supply chain will not be able to reopen by October, when the government’s job retention furlough scheme comes to an end, placing thousands of jobs at risk.

Events such as trade fairs, exhibitions and professional gatherings were cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and the countrywide lockdown, with many events rescheduled for later this year or 2021.

Concerns about a second wave of coronavirus cases has prompted further uncertainty about reopening plans across the globe.

“The exhibitions sector is a vital enabler of economic activity in almost every sector of the UK economy and failure to provide a go-live date impacts the ability of almost 180,000 businesses to recover,” said Chris Skeith, chief executive officer, Association of Event Organisers.

READ MORE: What do the new rules on flexible furlough mean?

There are widespread fears unemployment will continue to mount amid weak economic demand, cutbacks to the furlough scheme and young people leaving education this summer. Unemployment could hit 11.7% by the end of the year, according to figures released by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) last week.

Figures from the Treasury show 9.3 million people had been placed on furlough as of 28 June with 1.1 million employers using the programme, which sees the state pay 80% of furloughed staffs’ wages up to a maximum £2,500 ($3,152) per month. The programme has cost the government £25bn since it launched in April.

The government last week pledged an additional £30bn to support, protect and create jobs, aiming to fight a steep downturn and feared surge in job losses in Britain’s coronavirus-hit economy.