The East of England Arena and Events Centre hosted what is believed to be the UK’s first live event to be fully monitored and approved by Public Health England (PHE) and the Environmental Health Agency, when Warners launched the 2020 Outdoor Motorhome Camper Show at the venue, 31 July.

The one-off show ran from 31 July to 2 August and was one of, if not the first, public event to have undergone such scrutiny, and to have run while being monitored for its duration. Organisers say some 5,000 people attended over the three days.

Sally Dodds, head of events at Warners Group Publications said that as the lockdown continued, the likelihood of the event going ahead reduced.

“As time went on the idea Warner’s would be able to hold one of their events this summer became less and less likely, then the country started to open up when campsites and open air markets were allowed,” she said.

Dodds added: “Maybe we could scale our show down and work on the event but why bother with the scaled down event? Because our loyal traders were desperate to trade, and 500 units camped on site, safely, for the weekend, which shows that people want to get out. Summer is passing us by fast and so far, their motorhomes have been sitting in storage. New customers to the hobby want to have a look at what’s on offer, and with over 5,000 arriving to the free event across three days, the staycation and freedom a motorhome gives is well and truly on peoples’ minds.”

The show was delivered under the guidelines drawn up by the Event Industry Forum, with support from DCMS and representatives from across the events industry, created to keep staff, traders and visitors safe at small-scale events this summer and with reference to the All Secure Standard from the Event Industry Alliance (made up of the AEO, AEV, ESSA) where appropriate.

“The showground and Public Health England worked closely with Warner’s Event Management Plan, risk assessment, with Covid-19 site safety rules in place and daily inspections to pass the event went ahead and I thank all involved for their guidance and support. A Covid-19-safe site is do-able, and many visitors commented on how safe they felt.” concluded Dodds.

Venue director, Jason Lunn, added that PHE were working with the venue during the build to monitor the practices. He said: “PHE were with us right up until the night before the event, at which point they still could have stopped the show if they were not satisfied. There were many adjustments to make this a Covid-safe show, one of which was that the ‘wild camping’ for the motorhomes on site had to be self-contained with no shower blocks open and toilets only open during visiting hours.

“This was just one of many compromises and changes that were worked on by the venue team and Warners in order to satisfy the requirements of PHE.”