The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Entry to Venues and Events) (England) Regulations 2021

14 Dec

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Entry to Venues and Events) (England) Regulations 2021

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Entry to Venues and Events) (England) Regulations 2021 will come into force at 6am on 15 December 2021, subject to approval by Parliament.

Once in force the Regulations will impose numerous obligations on certain event organisers, venues and businesses which will need to ensure they use COVID-19 status checks as a condition of entry.

Venues that are caught by the Regulations include:

  • nightclubs, dancehalls and discotheques
  • other late night dance venues, where all of the following apply:
    • the venue is open between 1am and 5am
    • it serves alcohol after 1am
    • it has a dancefloor (or space for dancing)
    • it provides music, whether live or recorded, for dancing
  • indoor events with 500 or more attendees, where those attendees are likely to stand or move around for all or part of the event, such as music venues with standing audiences or large receptions
  • outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees, where those attendees are likely to stand or move around for all or part of the event, such as outdoor festivals
  • events with 10,000 or more attendees, whether indoor or outdoor, such as large sports and music events

Exemptions to these rules apply, such as when dancing takes place as a performance, dance classes or exercise dance classes.

What must organisations do?

Organisations must take reasonable steps to make sure that all adult attendees show a valid NHS COVID Pass, or approved proof of vaccination, testing, or an exemption, to enter the venue or event.

Evidence of natural immunity is not acceptable as an alternative to proof of vaccination or testing.

Under 18s do not have to show their COVID-19 status but should be counted towards attendance thresholds.

The following do not need to apply COVID-19 status checks as a condition of entry, unless they are holding an event that meets the criteria for venues or events requiring mandatory checks:

  • museums or art galleries
  • theme parks and fairgrounds
  • other tourist, heritage, or cultural sites (including zoos, aquariums and botanical gardens)
  • recreation and leisure facilities (such as bowling alleys, amusement arcades and bingo halls)
  • sport and physical activity facilities (such as gyms, swimming pools, and skating rinks)
  • play areas or centres
  • casinos
  • cinemas
  • transport hubs and public transport
  • retail, including markets, shops, shopping centres, and supermarkets

In addition, the following are exempted events even if the attendance thresholds are met

  • communal worship
  • wedding and civil partnership ceremonies and equivalents (including alternative wedding ceremonies)
  • receptions celebrating a wedding or other significant life event (like a christening, bar and bat mitzvah or mehndi ceremony) that are organised by an individual (and not a business, a charitable, benevolent, or philanthropic institution or a public body).
  • funerals and commemorative events (except where commemorative events are held in a nightclub)
  • outdoor events in public spaces where these are unticketed and not charged for (such as markets, street parties, protests and carnivals)
  • events in private houses (including private gardens) where people do not have to pay or hold a ticket to enter

Circumstances where spots checks are allowed

The Regulations permit limited circumstances where COVID-19 status checks on all attendees at events are not required as these could endanger the safety of those attending the event or others.

However, spot checks will still be required and can be used in the following circumstances, if it is not reasonably possible to check proof of COVID-19 status for all attendees at these events:

  1. The event is:
  • an indoor event with 500 or more attendees expected to stand or move around
  • an outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees expected to stand or move around
  • any event with more than 10,000 attendees
  1. The majority of attendees are expected to arrive for a fixed start time, where entrants are likely to all arrive in a short space of time.
  1. It is not possible to set up checkpoints away from the entry points, and carrying out a check on every person would lead to a crowd gathering outside the venue or event.
  1. The crowd would either present a risk to the safety of the persons in the crowd, or to any other person, or provide a potential target for terrorist action.

In these circumstances, a risk assessment must be undertaken to determine the percentage of checks that can safely be carried out. This risk assessment must be to the relevant local authority at least 10 working days in advance of the event.

The local authority will either approve the measure, ask for alterations or reject the proposal (requiring the venue to conduct 100% checks). If the local authority replies less than 5 working days before the event then the spot check application will be treated as approved.

For events held between 15 December 2021 and 31 December 2021, event operators that meet the criteria and want to apply spot checks must submit an assessment of risk to their local authority. If the criteria are met and the submission made reasonable requests, spot checks can be used without local authority assessment.

Further details about these matters, including helpful examples, can be found within the new Guidance here including how you can carry out NHS COVID Pass checks at your venue or event, expectations for workers at your venue or event, if attendees and workers cannot demonstrate their covid-19 status, if you fail to carry out your legal obligations and what records you must keep.

Please note that this article is for general guidance only. For specific advice, please contact one of our Solicitors.

Law correct at the date of publication.
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