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Events Industry Still Not Coping

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The announcement of Level 1 has given some industries the chance to function again, but the events industry is still struggling. 

Projeni Pather, of the SA Events Council said the restrictions on the venue capacity will continue to be a major setback for the events industry. 

"We were really excited to be going down to level 1, but the announcement of a maximum capacity of 100 left us devastated after a year without no work to this industry." said Pather. 

Some events were held within the capacity limit, but these events have not been financially viable for those in the events industry. 

As chair of the Association of African Exhibition Organisers, Pather also hosted some events in 2020 to show government that events like expos can be held with the correct safety measures. 

 However, not much has changed, as events are still highly restricted. 

"There is unfortunately a big stigma attached to events or gatherings, but we obviously need to make a clear distinction and that's what we're working with government on right now. Exhibitions and conferences are not superspreaders, as people believe. These are professional, organised gatherings and that's exactly what our events showed government last year...These events stimulate the economy, it stimulates local economy"

Pather hopes that the events industry can function again, without the stigma of other superspreader events.

As Chair of the Association of African Exhibition Organisers, Pather has been advocating for the return of expos.

She said these expos aim to promote business over socialising. 

"It's not about socialising, people are there to buy products and services, to do business. These events assist so many different industry sectors within South Africa so it's very easy to control, unlike a nightclub or social gathering. Here you're not coming to socialise, you're coming to buy, like you would do when you go to a mall."

The industry is now looking for a way forward after receiving no financial support, despite not being able to function at full capacity. 

"We're working together with government to get support for our industry. We lost skilled labour, we had companies closing down, hundreds and thousands of people who have lost their jobs and yet we do not have a relief package for this industry. People want to attend our exhibitions, but we're not allowed to. The South African public feels safe to attend because they know of the strict protocols."

"We want to work closely with government, we need to unbundle our business events from gatherings and we need financial relief" said Pather.

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