Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed 17 May will mark the activation of Step 3 of England’s roadmap out of lockdown.
While Step 3 is good news for pub and restaurant owners, who will again be allowed to welcome people back inside their venues, it is also good news for large parts of the events industry.
While social distancing is still required, there is no requirement for Covid-status certification at this time to secure entry. Overnight stays will also be allowed from 17 May.
From 17 May, most events will resume in some capacity, although it is likely some may opt to postpone if costs make it unviable owing to capacity restrictions.
Business events such as conferences, tradeshows, exhibitions, and gala dinners, as well as corporate hospitality, are all permitted.
From 17 May, indoor events for up 1,000 people or 50% venue capacity, not including staff, contractors or exhibitors, will reopen. Outdoor events for up to 4,000 (or 50% capacity) may also resume, and special dispensation will be given to seated stadiums. The Government has also made a special provision for large, outdoor seated venues where crowds can be distributed around the venue, allowing up to 10,000 people or 25% of total seated capacity, whichever is lower. This provision can be used by venues with a seated capacity of 16,000 or above. For events with mixed seating and standing areas including music, elite sporting events and non-elite/professional spectator events, the capacity cap will be calculated as 25% of seated capacity, irrespective of any standing capacity.
Three rules to know
The Government states organisers must adhere to the following three rules:
- Event organisers must follow all relevant Covid-secure guidance depending on the type of event and complete a related risk assessment. This guidance varies according to the type of event and could include business events, outdoor events, funfairs, performing arts or sports events.
- Organisers and attendees must 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.
How do capacity caps work?
All capacity restrictions must be adhered to at any point throughout the event. For example, an exhibition or conference can admit over 1,000 people in a single day, but no more than 1,000 people at one time. If an event runs over the course of multiple days, no more than 1,000 people should be admitted at any one time over that period. An organiser could theoretically run an event with 1,000 people in the morning, and 1,000 people in the afternoon.
If a single venue hosts multiple different events at one time, and the attendees of each event are separated for the duration of the event (for example, an exhibition centre hosting multiple business events), the 50% capacity cap will apply to each individual event, rather than the venue.
This should be applied consistently across all types of events apart from grassroots organised sports participants events which are not subject to the limits on participants, but they are still subject to limits on spectators.
For those events subject to capacity caps, it should be noted that the caps refer to the event attendees only. Staff, workers and volunteers are covered by the work exemption so should not be counted as part of the capacity cap.
While the Government has said it is exploring the potential use of ‘Covid-secure status’, the decision to require a mandatory negative Covid-19 test rests firmly with individual organisers. The Government only says: “consider pre-attendance screening.”
During his address, 10 May, the prime minister hinted that from Step 4 on 21 June, there may be no need for any form of Covid-status certification. It is believed that the recommendations from the scientists after the Event Research Programme will determine this.
From 17 May, catering can also be provided for permitted events, such as business events and private dining. Awards nights and gala dinners will need to follow hospitality guidance.