• The Events Industry Forum, Association House, 18c Moor Street, Chepstow, NP16 5DB

Article Index

Keeping attendees safe

Where outdoor events are permitted, social distancing should be maintained at all times.

Risk assessments should specifically consider the maximum capacity both in terms of the ability to manage audience behaviour and maintain social distancing while keeping within any limits set under rules. 

Capacities should be assessed based on the size of the event space and expectations of audience behaviour to ensure that social distancing can be maintained.It should also be limited to avoid putting pressure on local and public transport.

Event organisers should also:

  • Consider the security implications of any changes made to operations and practices in response to COVID-19, as any revisions may present new or altered security risks which may need mitigations.
  • Consider whether sufficient staff are appropriately trained to keep people safe.For example, having dedicated staff to encourage social distancing or to manage security.
  • For organisations who conduct physical searches of people, consider how to ensure the safety of those conducting searches while maintaining security standards.
  • Following government guidance on managing security risks.

Enclosed structures and ventilation

As set out in 5(6) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No.2) (England) Regulations 2020, a place is indoors if it would be considered to be enclosed or substantially enclosed for the purposes of section 2 of the Health Act 2006 under the Smoke-free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006.

Some events may include indoor and outdoor elements.Enclosed or partially enclosed structures, such as marquees or tented structures, including circus events, should limit attendee capacity so that social distancing can be maintained.

Event organisers should also consider additional mitigations to reduce the risks of transmission in enclosed or partially enclosed structures, such as providing sanitisation points and reminding audiences to avoid raising their voices.Face coverings should be strongly recommended for event attendees present in enclosed or partially enclosed structures, apart from when they are consuming food or drink.

Good ventilation can help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus, so event organisers should focus on improving general ventilation, preferably through fresh air or mechanical systems.  Lifting or removing side walls from enclosed or partially enclosed structures, such as marquees, can help to circulate fresh air.

In addition, organisers should take steps to maintain social distancing between attendees, staff and performers by:

  • Managing audiences to avoid pinch points, particularly at entrances and at access points to seating.
  • Lowering capacity - even if it is possible to safely seat a number of people inside a venue, it may not be safe for them all to travel or enter that venue.
  • Giving specific consideration to ingress and egress management, car parking, public transport, hand washing facilities and areas such as arenas, stages or demonstration sites where crowding can take place.Requirements for permanent structures may differ from green field sites.
  • Staggering entry times with other venues and taking steps to avoid queues building up in surrounding areas.
  • Arranging one-way travel routes between transport hubs and venues.
  • Advising attendees to avoid particular forms of transport or routes and to avoid crowded areas when in transit to the venue.
  • Making attendees aware of, and encouraging compliance with, limits on gatherings, for example, on arrival or at booking.

Crowd Management 

Organisers, in consultation with those responsible for crowd management, should consider the need for social distancing and the risks of overcrowding when planning and, where necessary, restrict the numbers allowed on the site – or in a particular area – at any one time.Depending on the type of event, this may be best achieved through ticket numbers.However, for events where there is no ticketing, organisers will need to consider using other communications approaches, coupled with site stewarding, to manage the numbers attending.

  • The expected interactions among participants occurring during the event will need to be considered and sufficient controls should be put in place to ensure social distancing is maintained.
  • Attendees who are accompanied by children should be reminded that they are responsible for supervising them at all times and should follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Crowd density points, such as where people stop to watch displays, need to be managed to ensure social distancing can be maintained.
  • Signage should be provided on the approach to, and around, the event site to remind attendees of the need for social distancing and to clearly direct them to facilities such as hand washing locations and quarantine areas.
  • Activities or features that are likely to encourage audience behaviour increasing transmission risk, such as crowding, clustering and physical contact outside of household groups or support bubbles should be avoided and prevented.
  • Announcements should be made frequently to encourage attendees to respect distancing measures.
  • The risk of alcohol impairing social distancing should be managed through, where needed, controls on the purchase or consumption of alcohol (including alcohol brought by attendees on site or into the premises). (NOTE:Alcohol sale restrictions may apply under in some situations)
  • Where there could be a risk from use of other substances, organisers should consult with the appropriate enforcement agencies and crowd management specialists.
  • All events of over 30 people should be ticketed or otherwise controlled to ensure that Covid-19 secure guidance and government regulation is upheld.The numbers of tickets issued should ensure that social distancing can be maintained.Ticketing should also be used to support test and trace (see Test & Trace Section)
  • All reasonable effort should be made to manage arrivals on site to avoid crowding and queuing, such as by ensuring that there are sufficient entrance points and advising attendees in advance which entrance to use.
  • It is good practice for ticketed events to provide attendees with staggered arrival times and to provide barriered queuing systems that are marked out to encourage that social distancing is maintained between those queuing.
  • Consideration should be given to managing family groups who may wish to remain closer than the required social distance but who, in doing so, may encourage others to cluster in a similar manner.Communication is key to this.
  • Consideration should be given to planning car parking to allow sufficient spacing for the social distancing of occupants.This will be particularly important at events where attendees may gather around their vehicles during an event or make frequent visits to their vehicles to collect chairs, coats, drinks etc.

Attendee Transport

Organisers should anticipate that with the public concerned about social distancing, more may travel to their event by car rather than using public transport.This may necessitate additional car parking arrangements.

Advance ticketing should be considered to control parking.Alternatively, an A-Z or odd/even number approach might be used to stagger arrivals at car parks. 

(NOTE: Organisers should be aware that, as service providers, their responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 remain in place.  This means that it is important to continue to ensure that any event is reasonably accessible to disabled people and that any COVID-19 related planning actions preserve existing accessibility, such as accessible car parking and access routes around a site.)

Entertainment Areas Safe

Appropriate measures need to be put in place to help ensure that all those working or attending a demonstration or display are kept COVID-safe.   This may involve:

  • Positioning event staff in key areas to encourage those attending to maintain the basic rules of social distancing.
  • Ensuring that steps are taken to avoid people needing to unduly raise their voices to each other.This includes – but is not limited to – refraining from activity, that may encourage shouting.This is because of the potential increased risk of transmission – particularly from aerosol and droplet transmission.
  • Managing seating to ensure the maintenance of social distancing.Key principles to follow for seating include:
    • Audiences should be seated as individuals or groups from the same household or support bubble.
    • Individuals and groups should maintain social distancing from others.
    • Seating and space for those requiring disabled seating or wheelchair space should be considered within the social distancing arrangements and with due regard to accessibility responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010.
    • Where possible, ticketing systems should be used to allocate seating to ensure social distancing is maintained, with consideration given to avoiding people crowding to get to their seats.Staggered entry and exit may be used to achieve this.
    • If unallocated seating is provided, organisers should consider installing seat separation or labelling/taping off seats which should not be used. 
    • It is expected that guests will take responsibility for their own and others’ welfare and abide by social distancing in seated areas.Staff should, nevertheless, be deployed to ensure that these measures are being observed.This may include increased checks and supervision, in particular before and at the end of each performance.
  • Consider having clearly designated positions from which event staff can provide advice or assistance whilst themselves maintaining social distance.
  • Reconfigure entertainment spaces to enable attendees to be seated rather than stand.For example, repurposing dance floors for attendee seating. 

Ingress and Egress

Getting people in and out of venues, whether an event site or a marquee etc., needs careful managing as these are potential pinch points where social distancing may be more difficult to control.  This should be considered as part of the event’s crowd management plan and those responsible for managing security and marshalling etc.should be consulted.

  • Appropriate queuing systems should be deployed to manage social distancing at ingress points.
  • Outside queues should be managed to ensure they do not cause a risk to individuals, other businesses or create additional security or safety risks.This can be done, for example, by introducing queuing systems; staff directing attendees; and protecting queues from traffic by routing them behind permanent physical structures such as street furniture, bike racks, bollards or putting up barriers.
  • Advance ticketing should be encouraged to minimise queuing on site.
  • Where possible, ticket holders should be given staggered arrival times.
  • Those purchasing tickets at box offices should be encouraged to pay by card, contactless if possible.If cash is exchanged, hand washing facilities should be provided in these areas.
  • On arrival, those checking tickets should ask attendees if they – or any member of their family – are suffering symptoms associated with COVID-19.
  • People with symptoms of COVID-19, or who have been advised to self-isolate following contact with someone with symptoms of COVID-19 should be refused entry and asked to return home.
  • It is recommended to have an isolation/quarantine area near entrances where those refused entry can be taken until they can safely leave the site.
  • Tickets should, if possible, be designed for electronic scanning to avoid the need for those checking to need to touch tickets.
  • All reasonable effort should be made to maintain social distancing between staff and attendees at entrances.This should include requiring attendees to fit their own wrist bands etc.rather than this being done by members of staff.
  • Where wrist bands are used, they should be passed to one member of the group arriving to minimise contact.
  • Consideration should be given to providing advice on what people should do if they are unwell.This could be done by sending an advance email or printing on tickets etc.
  • In their pre-event communication, organisers should encourage attendees to bring the minimum of personal effects to the event in order to reduce bag search requirements.
  • It is suggested that attendees are asked to empty bags into trays to minimise the contact points for those carrying out checks.
  • Hand washing and sanitiser stations should be available, and clearly signposted, around the event ingress and egress points but in locations that do not cause bottlenecks at entrances.
  • To avoid crowding, particularly around pinch points, at the conclusion of an event, organisers should consider the best way to manage exits given the structure and layout of the site.
  • Extra stewarding/marshalling may be needed at key pinch points and care should be taken to remove any barriers at exits that might cause crowding. 

Emergency Egress

Every event should have an evacuation plan in case an emergency arises which requires workers and attendees to be moved away from an area or from the site altogether.This should be undertaken in consultation with those responsible for managing security and marshalling.

  • Consideration needs to be given to evacuating attendees in case of emergency in such a way as to maintain social distancing, where possible.
  • Consideration might be given to multiple exit points and providing spaces where crowds can gather with space for social distancing.
  • Sufficient trained security/marshalling staff need to be available at exit points to manage the exiting crowd.
  • Planning for emergency egress should be undertaken as part of the event risk assessment and in full consultation with those responsible for crowd management.
  • The priority should be given to maintaining public safety.

Community Assurance

Organisers should be aware that local communities are wary of visitors and the risks they perceive they pose to bringing infection into the area.

Organisers should work to reassure communities of the steps they are taking to keep everyone safe. 

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