ExCeL London – a hub of trade events in the United Kingdom – has confirmed that it plans to begin hosting exhibitions and conferences again from 1 October.
The East London venue welcomes four million visitors through its doors annually, but famously closed for normal duties in March to become the site of NHS Nightingale London as the coronavirus pandemic took hold.
To help deal with the pandemic pressures, it was converted into a temporary hospital equipped with hundreds of beds and ventilators to serve coronavirus patients.
At the beginning of April, the hospital was officially opened by HRH Prince Charles.
But following the recent government announcement that business events and conferences can restart from 1 October, the venue will transition back to its original purpose and has outlined a clear reopening plan for organised events.
Jeremy Rees, CEO of ExCeL London, detailed: “We are delighted that the government has confirmed the timetable for when business events and conferences can resume. Having played a full role in supporting the NHS, providing all of our facilities for the Nightingale Hospital, we are now looking forward to playing an equally active role in the nation’s economic recovery.
“The vast majority of the venue (90%) has been restored to its original state, with the remaining space secured as equipment storage for NHS Nightingale. This ongoing support will not impact the normal operation of our venue and we look forward to hosting safe, secure, and successful business events and conferences from 1 October onwards.”
ExCeL has been working with the AEV (Association of Event Venues) and other key stakeholders to develop the ‘All Secure Standard’, an industry wide benchmark to enable the safe return of organised events.
In addition, the venue has developed its own set of safety principles to help guide customers through the event planning process, including new social distancing measures, cleaning regimes, F&B protocols and training.
ExCeL hosts 400 events annually, playing host to more than 40,000 exhibitors.
Events hosted at ExCeL are estimated to deliver £4.5 billion in economic impact to the UK and nearly 38,000 jobs.
During its time as a hospital, reports surfaced that the owners of ExCeL were charging the NHS up to £3m a month to use the site. However, ExCeL London issued a statement that it had always been provided to the NHS rent-free.
It did confirm that the initial agreement included a contribution to some fixed costs, but it later decided to cover these fees itself.