International travel & big events in the UK

May 2021

We’re sure many of you have spent the last few weeks readjusting to life with friends and family in the outdoors, acclimatising to the unique experience of dinner, drinks, and rain ponchos whilst finally having those long-awaited catchups.

But, in what feels like no time at all, the rules have changed again and the events community has received the best update since the pandemic began: events of up to 1,000 indoors and 4,000 outdoors are now able to go ahead.

Of course, we are all delighted to see the industry finally re-open, but it doesn’t stop there. In the same breath, international travel has also now become an option for all with a dozen destinations being green lit as safe to travel to for work and leisure purposes.

So at the same time as being able to move indoors for a meal or drinks with up to 5 others, you can also now hop on a plane and head abroad to one of a handful of pre-set destinations; or attend an exhibition amongst some of the largest crowds many of us will have seen in over a year - that’s a big adjustment!

Being able to host events again is an incredible feeling and we’ve felt the excitement from it across the board, whether that’s been within our own team, from organisers and suppliers, or lucky event attendees. Just in the first week we’ve already hosted a handful of events including film shoots, a corporate event and a wedding – enjoying them all equally.

But we also understand these latest updates feel like a massive leap for many, so we want to dive in and break down what impact the relaxation of certain restrictions will have on the event industry.

International travel from the UK: What we know

People sat on a plane People sat on a plane

Prior to 17th May, international travel was only allowed for a limited number of business-related reasons. In terms of events, diplomatic meetings and conferences as well as elite sporting events were really all that qualified individuals to travel abroad.

However, on 7th May the UK government announced a new traffic light system to grade countries and territories by, with a total of 12 destinations initially added to the ‘green list’. Now the 17th May has passed, UK residents can travel to and from these for leisure AND business.

These countries are:

·      Australia

·      Brunei

·      Falkland Islands

·      Faeroe Islands

·      Gibraltar

·      Iceland

·      Israel and Jerusalem

·      New Zealand

·      Portugal

·      Singapore

·      South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands

·      St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

In terms of travel arrangements, each country or territory has its own set of requirements and so your plans will need to be carefully researched on a case-by-case basis.

The remaining countries are currently either on the ‘amber list’ or ‘red list’ – you should not travel to countries on either list for leisure, and strict limitations apply for business purposes. Countries on the amber list have the potential to be moved to either the green or red list, dependent on how much of a covid transmission risk they currently pose. Countries on the red list pose a high risk of potential covid transmission to visitors and can only be moved to the amber list.

However, with the introduction of the green list, it’s now possible to attend both business and personal events at any of the dozen countries and territories initially included.

Events in the UK: What we know

behind the scenes of a photoshoot at London filming venue 10-11 Carlton House Terrace behind the scenes of a photoshoot at London filming venue 10-11 Carlton House Terrace

On 10th May, it was confirmed that the Step 3 of the UK’s lockdown easing could go ahead as originally planned for one week later on the 17th.

This step includes the relaxation of a large number of restrictions, particularly those covering indoor activities and limits on groups of people - meaning big changes for events!

Recently, only a handful of pre-planned pilot events have gone ahead in the UK, each carefully monitored to assess the risks of larger gatherings and removing the restrictions on person-to-person contact. So far, all appear to have been successful and safe, but limits still currently apply to all other events in the immediate future.

Catherine Owens, Head of Venue Sales & Marketing, said: We are thrilled to have reached another milestone in the government’s plan for reopening and excited to safely take another step forward. We’ve already seen a significant appetite for live events, experiences and human connection that in this week we have hosted two filming jobs, our first corporate event since last summer and the first wedding of our busiest wedding season to date.”

“The team and industry have worked tirelessly to ensure a smooth and safe transition back to events and cannot wait to welcome more people and create more memories as the guidelines allow.”

Whilst this relaxation of restrictions is significant, there are still a number of safety measures required and we’re constantly monitoring the latest advice from the government. You can find all of our current covid safety measures and processes below.

As of the 17th May, this is what has changed for events:

Almost any kind of event can go ahead, however capacity allowances are different for business events vs some private and leisure events.

  • Business events includes conferences, meetings, exhibitions, tradeshows, as well as private dining events like award ceremonies, gala or charity dinners, and other corporate hospitality. These can go ahead with up to 1000 guests or 50% of the venue’s total capacity (excluding venue staff) - whichever is lower.
  • Private events such as weddings and birthday or anniversary parties are subject to smaller limits of up to 30 guests, indoors or outdoors.
  • It is not clear whether summer and Christmas parties are included under business or private events. Until we have clarification, we would recommend caution and assume the limit of 30 applies to these occasions too.

Outdoor events are permitted to have a maximum of 4000 attendees or 50% of the space’s maximum capacity.

The government will make special provisions for large, outdoor seated venues where crowds can be safely spread out. This will be for up to 10,000 attendees or 25% of the venue’s maximum seated capacity.

People attending a hybrid event at central london venue 10-11 Carlton House Terace People attending a hybrid event at central london venue 10-11 Carlton House Terace

Rules for attendees

Social distancing rules still apply. The government encourages organisers to be mindful of this when designing and planning their events, i.e., leaving enough space for people to keep a comfortable distance, having appropriate one-way systems in place, etc.

Whilst up to 1000 people can attend an indoor event at once, they should not attend in groups of more than 6 or as more than two households.

The exception to this when it is reasonably necessary for that a group larger than 6 attend a business event together for work purposes. This is not encouraged, however.

The government advises people not to mix outside of their group at indoor events and ensure they minimise contact with others as much as possible.

For outdoor events, you are allowed to attend as a group of up to 30 individuals.

There are currently no plans to require proof of vaccination or evidence of negative test results in order to attend events.

Guidance on the use of masks at events is not clear, however there is good reason to continue wearing them in all circumstances where it is practical and possible.

Conference News has a helpful and throughout breakdown of the latest set of rule changes. You can read them in full below.

We also spoke to Anna Fenton, Head of Brand, Comms & Marketing at Searcys, who shared what the return of events means to them: “After an uncertain year for all across the hospitality and events industry, hope is growing as we continue to take the steps back to normality. We firmly believe that the events industry and hospitality will now play a pivotal part in bringing life back to city centres.”

 “Nothing can substitute the positive energy, creative sparkle and the sheer enjoyment that socialising and collaboration at live events bring to both guests and events staff. Our chefs, event managers, hosts and front-of-house teams can’t wait to welcome you back.”

What are some big events coming up in the UK?


Both locally and internationally, concerts and live performances can now go ahead. Major names like The Killers, Tom Jones, Rick Astley and lots more are lined-up at venues across the UK in the next few weeks. With many of these being held in stadiums and open-air locations, they’re likely to be granted to special capacity allowances. If you’re lucky enough to be attending one soon, prepare to be part of the largest crowd you’ve probably seen in a long time! (Social distancing applicable, of course).

G7 Summit

Happening on the 11th, 12th, and 13th of June, the 2021 G7 summit will be one of the first major international events to go ahead since the pandemic began. It will be attended by several world leaders including Boris Johnson and is taking place at sandy Carbis Bay in Cornwall. We’re think it’ll be an interesting and pivotal event that the event community should be watching keenly.

The Event Production Show

One of the last industry events to go ahead before the first lockdown in March last year, the Event Production Show is going ahead on the 26th and 27th of May at Farnborough International for 2021. This year, the show takes place outdoors for the first time - a response to how unpredictable event planning has been over the last 12 months! That means it will have capacity for up to 4000 attendees and will be the first major conference and physical gathering of event professionals in over 15 months.

London Concours

One of the few events that was able to take place last summer, London Concours is confirmed to be going ahead in a few weeks’ time from the 8th to 10th June. Held in the City of London’s largest private garden, it’s a ticketed ‘automotive garden party’ where dozens of the world’s most impressive cars are put on display each year.

The organisers of this event are already well-versed at running an event with full social distancing and safety measures in place, and we know first-hand that the event’s catering by Searcys will be impressive, safe, and come without compromise. Overall, we expect they’ll find their 2021 edition slightly less of a challenge to put on!

International Confex

Confex is the UK’s biggest industry-focused event and is poised to retain that title in 2021. Taking place on the 22nd and 23rd of June at the ExCeL Centre, it’ll be just one day after the final step planned in the government’s roadmap. Assuming it goes ahead, it will be one of the first events to take place in the UK without any restrictions at all – a significant milestone for the industry.

We know from personal experience how valuable the show is to the eventprof community and it usually draws 1000’s of us from all over the world. If it goes ahead in June (and we have everything crossed it will), these two days will be something very special to be a part of!

Central London venue: 10-11 Carlton House Terrace

Our team could not be more excited to welcome back guests back officially – and hopefully permanently! Our central London venue is fully equipped to host a wide range of events, including weddings, conferences, exhibitions, film shoots, meetings, parties and more.

In all cases, we continue to take remaining restrictions into account and keep appropriate systems in place to ensure the safety of all visitors and staff. If you’d like to discuss the requirements of your next event and discover if we’re the perfect fit for you, our venue team would love to chat! You can contact us directly on 020 7969 5224 or drop us an email at