Business events with social distancing on cards from 17 May

Business events in England are set to be able to take place with social distancing in place from Monday 17 May – if all goes to plan.

The updated guidance states that from Step 3 of the government’s Roadmap, which will take place no earlier than 17 May, indoor events can commence, subject to meeting Covid-secure requirements – including social distancing.

Events that are able to start from Step 3 include business events such as conferences, trade shows, exhibitions, charity auctions, and private dining events such as charity or gala dinners and awards ceremonies, and corporate hospitality.

Event organisers will need to adhere to the following three requirements:

– Event organisers follow all relevant Covid-secure guidance depending on the type of event, and complete a related risk assessment.
– Organisers and attendees adhere to all legal requirements, including maintaining group sizes permitted by social contact restrictions at the relevant step in the Roadmap and preventing mixing between groups, enforcing social distancing guidelines and mandating face coverings in indoor areas where required.
– All reasonable action has been taken by the event organiser to mitigate risk to public health.

The limits for permitted organised gatherings from Step 3 will be:
– Indoors – rule of 6 or two households
– Outdoors – 30 people

Organisers should also mitigate risk to public health by controlling attendance, limiting numbers to take account of the space and ventilation of a venue and implementing effective infection prevention and control measures.

All events recommencing at Step 3 will be subject to the following capacity caps:

– 1,000 people or 50 per cent of a venue’s capacity, whichever is lower at indoor events
– 4,000 people or 50 per cent of a site or venue’s capacity, whichever is lower at outdoor events

An event cannot take place in either Step 2 or Step 3 if it is unlikely that social distancing between groups of attendees can be maintained, or if other Covid-secure requirements cannot be met. This guidance varies according to the type of event.

If an event falls into this category, event organisers should approach local authorities to look at identifying whether any adjustments to the format of the event can be made to enable the event to go ahead. This may include the use of seating or barriers to ensure that attendees maintain an appropriate distance.

Catering and hospitality

Permitted events at each step of the Spring Roadmap may provide hospitality in line with wider hospitality rules. In Step 3, outdoor hospitality at events is permitted in groups of up to 30 people and indoor hospitality at events will be permitted in groups of up to six people, or with one other household.

There will be a requirement for food and drink to be consumed at the table. This means:
• if the venue sells alcohol, then all food and drink must be ordered, served and consumed at a table
• where the sale of alcohol is not offered, customers will need to be seated when consuming food and drink, but can order and collect food and drink from a counter
• if the venue is a cinema, theatre, concert hall or sportsground, then customers with a ticket to the event are able to collect food and drink (including alcoholic drink) to consume at their seats, rather than having to be served at a table.

In Step 3, indoor private dining events such as charity or gala dinners and awards ceremonies, and corporate hospitality, are permitted. Covid-19 guidance for bars, pubs and takeaway services should be followed for these events.

To read the full updated guidance on organised events, click here.

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