Simon Hughes, chairman of the Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP) trade body, said: “People only heard the ‘six people limit’ part and think everything is banned, it’s created pandemonium.
“Like much of the Government’s communication during the pandemic it is not clear, and they do not appreciate the immediate commercial damage that lack of clarity it does.”
He said the BVEP had been trying to get clarity, so far without success, from the Cabinet Office, which issued the guidance about whether business events are affected.
The industry had been working under the assumption that as long as comprehensive risk assessments and mitigation measures including social distancing were in place that so-called “Covid secure” venues could hold events of up to 30 people.
A review had been expected on Oct 1 that would pave the way to larger events.
The new guidance has led the MIA to more than double its estimates of job losses in the industry from 18pc to about 38pc – some 266,000 positions.
Ms Longhurst added: “I’m hearing from businesses which had been limping along, hoping to open up on Oct 1, who now say they will shut up shop forever as it’s just not worth trying to go on. The sector is staring into the abyss.”