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Appendix 4:  Local Authority Guide for Assessing Applications for Large Outdoor Events

Assessing applications for organised outdoor events

When outdoor events organised by businesses, charitable organisations, and public bodies can take place (in accordance with capacity limits and any other conditions in place) events can be permitted, provided:

  1. Event organisers follow all relevant Covid-19 Secure guidance - depending on the type of event, this could include (for example) outdoor eventsfunfairs,  performing arts or elite sport events.
  1. Organisers and attendees adhere to all legal requirements, including only allowing customers to attend in adherence with legal gathering limits and social distancing guidelines, and mandating the use of face coverings in indoor areas. 
  1. The event does not pose a risk to public health.

Local authorities are responsible for permitting or prohibiting organised outdoor events from taking place in their local area.Decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis, with consideration given to both the risks and the mitigations in place.

Organisers of permitted events should be able to control the flow and dispersal across the event site of customers within their permitted groups - and should put mitigations in place such as staggered arrival and departure times - to ensure that large numbers of people do not congregate in any one area of the site. 

Local authorities should consider convening a Safety Advisory Group (SAG) where appropriate in order to bring together representatives from the local authority, emergency services and other relevant bodies.The local Director of Public Health ( DPH) should also be invited to the SAG.If a SAG is not convened, or if the DPH is otherwise engaged, local authorities should engage the DPH at the earliest opportunity.Local Authorities should also work closely with Local Transport Authorities to develop a clear plan to reduce pressure on the local transport network arising from events in the area.

Local authorities/Safety Advisory Groups should provide advice to businesses on how to manage events of this type if required.

Factors to consider

In deciding whether an event should be permitted, local authorities should consider factors such as:

  • Has the event organiser carried out a comprehensive risk assessment?
  • Has the event organiser taken into account the relevant COVID-secure guidance?
  • Can/will all mitigations be operated effectively?
  • What will be the impact on the local area? Has the event organiser engaged appropriately with neighbouring businesses and transport operators to assess and mitigate risks arising from pressure on local and public transport?
  • What will be the risk to local population health, taking into account prevailing trends in the prevalence of COVID-19?
  • Will attendees be primarily local, or will there be additional risk factors created by attracting a national or international audience for the event?

Through conversations with the event organiser and a review of their Risk Assessment, are you satisfied that the event organiser has in place reasonable mitigations to:

  • Ensure social distancing between customers, performers and staff?
  • Ensure that customers attend within legal gathering limits (unless an exemption applies) and that groups can be kept separate within the event?
  • Ensure cleanliness in all areas?
  • Robustly log customer data for the purposes of NHS Test and Trace?

Organised outdoor events should be permitted unless they pose a threat to public health, provided that they follow relevant guidance and adhere to all legal requirements.If local authorities are concerned about an event, they should discuss those concerns with the event organiser at the earliest possible opportunity, and should consider whether any mitigations could be put in place to alleviate risks, such as:

  • Reducing the number of attendees to allow full social distancing and minimise any burden on local transport systems.
  • 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 patrons to avoid particular forms of transport or routes and to avoid crowded areas when in transit to the venue.

Where an event poses a risk to public health, or in the event of a local spike in COVID-19 cases, local authorities can consider prohibiting, restricting or imposing requirements in respect of venues, events or outdoor public places using the powers available in The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No.3) Regulations 2020 if the event, venue or gathering in an outdoor public place poses a serious and imminent threat to public health.Any such decision must be both necessary and proportionate.If an event organiser, the owner or occupier of the premises on which the event is held or any other person involved in hosting the event goes against such a direction, they can be issued with a fixed penalty notice by a police officer, police community support officer or an individual designated by the local authority. 

If, by attending a particular event or gathering, an individual is contravening the regulations that have been put in place to control the spread of COVID-19, police officers, PCSOs and other relevant individuals designated by the local authority or Secretary of State have the power under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No.2) Regulations 2020 to direct individuals to leave a location or remove them from that location.This can have the overall effect of shutting down the event if all attendees are dispersed.Individuals deemed to be attending an illegal gathering can be issued with a fixed penalty notice, and organisers of an illegal event with more than 30 attendees could potentially be issued with a £10,000 fine.Event organisers could also be issued with fines if they have contravened other business-related regulations such as those set out in regulation 4 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No.2) Regulations 2020: these fines would be primarily issued by local authority enforcement officers, but can also be issued by police officers, PCSOs or an individual designated by the local authority or Secretary of State.

If appropriate, the government has powers under Schedule 22 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 to close venues hosting large gatherings or prohibit certain events (or types of event) from taking place, and a power under regulation 6 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No.2) (England) Regulations 2020 to restrict access to a public place.

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