Event planning during Covid-19

Lancashire County Council, Blackburn with Darwen Council and Blackpool Council Covid-19 Public Health general guidance and advice for sports grounds, businesses, venues and event organisers.

On 9 December 2021 the government issued guidance for Elite sports and Events and attractions for managing Covid-19 risks under Plan B.   Venue operators must read the guidance in full and familiarise themselves with the contents and not rely on this summary.

The guidance supports venue operators’ existing legal obligations relating to health and safety, entertainment licensing and regulations, employment and equality duties. The document also contains non-statutory guidance to take into account when complying with these existing obligations, to ensure venues are operating safely (for example workers and spectators in a sports ground context) by reducing the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

Venue operators should be directed to take action informed by that guidance, which includes the following (the guidance strongly encourages venue operators to take seven priority actions):

  1. Complete a health and safety risk assessment that includes risks from Covid-19 and the controls that should be in place. The guidance provides a template for you to use.
  2. Turn away people with Covid-19 symptoms.
  3. Provide adequate natural or mechanical ventilation.
  4. Provide hand sanitiser stations.
  5. Keep up with your increased cleaning schedule, focussing on touch points such as door handles or other surfaces commonly touched.
  6. Enable people to check in at the venue to support NHS Test and Trace.
  7. Keep all your workers, contractors and consumers updated on safety measures in place through effective and targeted communications.

Drawing from Events Research Programme (ERP) findings, the guidance suggests Covid-19 transmission risks (from aerosols/droplets and surfaces) are likely to be greatest indoors, in congested areas, where there is free movement of crowds, where crowds are gathering in large or dense numbers, and/or where crowds are undertaking energetic activity.

The guidance outlines potential mitigations, including cleaning, hygiene, ventilation (possibly using CO2 monitors) and crowd management (high level narrative on stewarding, zoning and crowd movement strategies).

Consistent with wider government messaging, the guidance recommends use of face coverings by workers and consumers in enclosed spaces.

The guidance specifies the use of the NHS Covid-19 Pass for large events.

These actions are supported by the Directors of Public Health across Blackpool Council, Blackburn with Darwen Council and Lancashire County Council areas.

Implications for venues

From Friday 10 December, face coverings will be legally required in most public indoor venues.

From Wednesday 15th December, certain businesses and some events are required by law to check the COVID status of workers and customers, using the NHS Covid-19 Pass. This includes:

  • All events/grounds with an attendance of over 10000
  • All events/grounds with an attendance below 10000 but have a standing capacity over 4000
  • All unseated indoor events with 500 or more attendees.
  • All events/grounds with an attendance under 10000 and a standing capacity below 4000 will be exempt.

To enter or work in these venues and events, customers and workers must provide proof that they are fully vaccinated or have tested negative in the last 48 hours (unless they are exempt from these requirements).

The decision as to whether sports grounds, venues and events require additional mitigation measures to be in place (such as spectators/visitors wearing face masks) will be a discretionary choice for individual businesses, venues and event organisers to make.

As a matter of social responsibility, the government is encouraging other venues with large crowds to make use of the NHS Covid-19 Pass which shows proof of vaccination, a recent negative test or natural immunity – as a means of entry.

Note: Local Directors of Public Health retain powers under the Health Protection Regulations 2020 to place restrictions in cases of “serious or imminent threat to public health” on businesses and events. (These powers can be used where it is deemed necessary and any prohibitions, requirements or conditions imposed must be proportionate to the risk.)

For further information see Local authority powers to impose restrictions: Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No 3) Regulations 2020 on GOV.UK.

In summary:

The Regulations contain powers for local authorities to take action, where necessary, to:

  • restrict access to, or close, individual premises
  • prohibit or restrict certain events (or types of event)
  • restrict access to, or close, public outdoor places (or types of outdoor public places)

Local Authorities have powers under Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to take enforcement in circumstances where employers are putting employees and members of the public at risk.

It is a legal requirement to have to a risk assessment in place under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. This should include infection control measures. Your risk assessment must be written down if you have 5 or more employees.