Yesterday (April 28), Liverpool hosted the launch event for the Good Business Festival. It was the first in-person live business event to take place without COVID-19 measures in place, informing research to examine transmission, aerosol and contact risks in a medium-sized indoor venue.

The conference at ACC Liverpool was part of the Government’s Events Research Programme (ERP) – a science-led initiative to get audiences back safely as restrictions are gradually eased. Liverpool is hosting four separate events as part of the national pilot.

Delegates were required to take a lateral flow test within 24 hours prior to attending and were encouraged to take a free at-home PCR test on the day of the event and another five days afterwards.

Around 270 guests heard from a series of speakers including Denise Barrett Baxendale, CEO of Everton Football Club, Wayne Hemingway, creative director of The Good Business Festival, Liverpool City Council chief executive Tony Reeves and Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston.

The event closed with a “Live at the Apollo” style comedy show featuring comedians Mick Ferry, Rachel Fairburn and Kiri Pritchard-Mclean.

Reeves said: “It’s great to see the collaboration between central Government and local Government and academia here in Liverpool working together to put on an event that we can use as part of the Government’s Events Research Programme, and that we learn a lot from it to safely open up others parts of the economy and events like this in the future.

“It’s really important stuff and great to see Liverpool once again putting our hand up as a city prepared to take some risks and to be bold and make great things happen.”

Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “As the first live, in-person business event that has taken place in the UK this year – this is an important landmark in the recovery of the sector from the pandemic – and everyone involved should feel proud about the part they are playing.”

Faye Dyer, managing director of The ACC Liverpool Group, said: “Change Business for Good felt like a truly pivotal moment as we aim to return to hosting business events as soon as it is safe to do so.

“We were thrilled to be chosen to host the Government’s only business event pilot and to be playing a significant role in this important step towards the reopening of our industry.

“We have all adapted to a new landscape over the past year but nothing can replace face to face meetings so it was wonderful for delegates to be able to interact and attend this milestone conference.”

Professor Iain Buchan, Dean of the Institute of Population Health at the University of Liverpool, who is leading the evaluation of the pilots, said: “This is an important day for Liverpool and for the Events Research Programme. We are doing the research that will act as a blueprint for the public health safety net that will enable events – large, small, indoor, outdoor, seated, non-seated – to open safely.

“Testing, good citizenship, not coming if you have symptoms, spaced out venues that allow people to move around without any bottle necks, well ventilated to allow the air so that the air is as fresh as possible.

“And most importantly, making sure that the local public health teams have all of the information they need to be able to work closely with the organisers to ensure that safety net is in place.”

The next stage of the Events Research Programme will see Circus holding two nightclub events at Bramley Moore Dock on Friday 30 April and Saturday 1 May; the Sefton Park Pilot music festival takes place on Sunday 2 May and from 14 – 16 May, Luna Cinema on the waterfront will see three films screened outdoors.