The Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre (MCEC) will see a return to in-person exhibitions for the first time since Covid-19 restrictions came into effect last year, with The Gift & Lifestyle Fair from 20 to 22 March.
MCEC can currently host a maximum of 5,000 event attendees, but from 20 March, capacity will increase to 10,000 patrons per event space per day, at a maximum of 75% capacity.
For events with more 5,000 attendees, time-based sessions apply, with a time-gap between sessions. This means exhibitions can operate two daily sessions at a maximum of 5,000 per session, subject to latest density limits (currently 1 person per 2 sqm).
Since reopening at the end of 2020, MCEC has already hosted live music events with 1,600 attendees, but the return of exhibitions is a major boost for the industry.
MCEC director of sales, Darren Waite, said: "These trade shows and exhibitions are the lifeblood of what we do at MCEC and it is so exciting to see some of our most valued customers able to fill our building again.”
Gary Fitz-Roy, managing director of Expertise Events, organiser of The Gift & Lifestyle Fair, said that after 14 months it is a relief to see the return of live events.
“Being first, we appreciate that we are on show for so many reasons, the most important being to demonstrate that live events bring communities together and will aid in Australia, Victoria and Melbourne’s economic recovery,” he said.
“Getting to this point underlines the partnership approach MCEC have adopted during this difficult time. We have high praise for their team’s ‘can do’ attitude to navigating both important health requirements and the commercial realities of running a show.”
MCEC is reportedly seeing a steady and positive return of events and exhibitions. Upcoming events include the Pregnancy, Babies and Children’s Expo in May, and The Lume immersive art experience opening in Autumn.
MCEC introduced its VenueSafe Plan in July 2020, and during the city's enduring lockdown the venue was repurposed as a film production site for a Hollywood blockbuster starring Liam Neeson, and as a training facility for Victorian Guide Dogs.