New government guidance for events in England published

QR codes, COVID Passes and codes of conduct for attendees are among the government’s additional guidance for event planners as England moves to Step 4 of the roadmap.

The newly-published guidance applies to indoor or outdoor events of any size and is intended to inform event professionals’ planning and business operations from 19 July onwards.

The full advice can be read here. Here are some of the key points from the advice:

  • Planners are advised to continue to display an NHS QR code for customers wishing to check in using the app, to help reduce the spread of the virus and protect customers, visitors and staff. However, there is no legal obligation to ask customers to check in, nor do planners have the right to turn people away if they refuse to check in.
  • Organisers are asked to consider using the NHS COVID Pass to reduce the risk of transmission at venues and events. The Government will work with organisations that operate large, crowded settings where people are likely to be in close proximity to others outside their household to encourage the use of the NHS COVID Pass. The NHS COVID Pass will be available through the NHS App, the NHS website, or as a letter that can be requested by ringing NHS 119. Visitors will also be able to show text or email confirmation of test results. The Government will publish more guidance on using the NHS Covid Pass shortly.
  • If an attendee presents with symptoms, or you become aware of a case of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 on-site, they should not be admitted or should be asked to leave the facility or event, unless they need to be transported to hospital for treatment. Where possible, the customer should be assessed on-site and encouraged to take a supervised lateral flow test. Any customer returning a positive result from a lateral flow test must be required to leave the facility or event. Where medical and testing facilities are not available on-site, event organisers should use their own discretion in managing instances where an attendee presents on site with COVID-19 symptoms. This could include refusing entry.
  • Ensure you discuss ventilation and cleaning with the venue operator, to check you are comfortable with their risk management protocols. You should agree with the venue in advance any additional measures you will take to manage risk, such as opening windows to increase ventilation.
  • Encourage customers and visitors to wear face coverings, for example through signage, if your facility or event is likely to include enclosed and crowded spaces. Face coverings are no longer required by law, but the government expects and recommends that people should continue to wear them in crowded and enclosed settings, to protect themselves and others. Your workers may choose to wear a face covering in the workplace. You should support them in doing so.
  • Put in place a communications plan to ensure relevant information on COVID-19 measures is communicated to attendees before and during the event. Ensure that any relevant requirements or conditions of entry and requirements (such as the NHS COVID Pass or negative test requirements) are well-communicated at the point of sale. Onsite signage and audio messaging should provide up-to-date information on any attendee obligations or requirements.
  • Organisers may want to issue a code of conduct to attendees, as part of their pre-event communications. This could include asking attendees to agree that they will: undertake their own health risk assessment; check for symptoms of COVID-19 before travelling to the event; and not attend the event if they need to self-isolate.
  • Event organisers are strongly encouraged to factor early engagement with the relevant local authority into the event planning process to ensure any issues can be identified and resolved without delay.

The guidance also outlines the legal powers that local authorities have to prohibit or restrict an event.

Local authorities can prohibit or restrict venues or events using the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 3) Regulations 2020.

Any direction issued must meet the three legal conditions:

– it is responding to a serious and imminent threat to public health;
– it is necessary to prevent, protect against, control or provide a public health response in relation to the incidence or spread of COVID-19; and
– the measures taken are a proportionate way to achieve that purpose.

It goes on to say that local authorities should not issue blanket bans on events, and where there are concerns about the safety of an event, they should engage with the event organiser to resolve any issues at the earliest opportunity.

If an event organiser goes against a local authority direction, they can be issued with a fixed penalty notice.

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