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Organise an event during COVID-19

With the events industry taking a huge hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, we need a strong events sector now more than ever to help drive our recovery and future prosperity. This page is based on latest government regulations and guidance, and will help you to plan your event and consider new ways of working that are appropriate during the current situation.

WarningWe will avoid issuing licences for events that could lead to larger gatherings forming, or events that could put pressure on public and local transport. 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.

Safety Advisory Group

Although outdoor events organised by businesses, charitable organisations and public bodies are now allowed, some events will not be feasible under the current government guidance.

Events that are permitted must carry out a thorough risk assessment and take all reasonable steps to mitigate the risk of viral transmission, in line with COVID-19 secure guidance. Due to the pandemic and the risk of transmission, there may be a requirement for your event to be processed through the Safety Advisory Group for Events. This group exists to support you as an event organiser to deliver a safe event. The team will assess your Event Management Plan and Risk Assessments and advise you if there are risks that you have not considered.

COVID-19 risk assessment

You must carry out a COVID-19 specific risk assessment to identify all potential risks and provide suitable and sufficient risk management. Depending on the nature of your event, it may be useful to break this down into planning phase, build phase, open period and the break phase. In your risk assessment you need to do all of the following:

  • Identify what work activity or situations might cause transmission of the virus
  • Think about who could be at risk
  • Decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed
  • Act to remove the activity or situation (if this isn’t possible, control the risk)

If it's not possible to provide a suitable risk management, it may not be appropriate to host the event. Failure to complete a risk assessment which takes account of COVID-19 or completing a risk assessment but failing to put in place sufficient measures to manage the risk of COVID-19, could constitute a breach of health and safety law.

We have produced a COVID-19 checklist document to help you write your risk assessment which can be downloaded from this page. It includes a letter from B&NES, Swindon and Wiltshire with recommendations for all events in this period of high prevalence.

Carry out a risk assessment

COVID-19 operational checklist

Consider the following examples of some of the areas you may need to consider in your risk assessment, and use in conjunction with national guidance.

Travelling to your event

  • Have you provided information to attendees on the safest mode of transport to your event?
  • How are you avoiding putting pressure on public transport?
  • Is transport to and from the event being provided, and if so, is it frequent enough to allow social distancing?
  • Is it possible to stagger event arrival and departure times?

Social distancing

  • Have you identified potential congestion areas (for instance, in toilets, food outlets, bars, entrances, exits) and taken measures to ensure social distancing still occurs?
  • Will numbers to your event be limited sufficiently to allow social distancing between attendees who are from different households or support bubbles, as well as between staff? (Even if it's possible to safely seat a number of people inside, it may not be safe for them all to travel to or enter your venue - capacity may need to be further lowered)
  • If your event space is not closed off to the public, how will the places where your customers come into contact with members of the public be made safe?

Toilets and hand washing

  • Do you have plans in place for sufficient toilets, hand washing and sanitiser facilities that are easily accessible around your event site (from build through to breakdown) with reminders all around to encourage the safe use of these facilities?
  • Will antiviral high alcohol hand sanitiser be available on event entry and exit points?
  • Is a schedule in place for the frequent cleaning of toilets and hand washing facilities, and restocking of consumables?
  • Where toilets are provided, have you considered the route used for access and control of capacity and queuing?

Touch points and cross contamination

  • Have touch points (door handles, waste bin lids, tables and chairs) been identified, and plans put in place to ensure these are regularly disinfected?
  • Have you used a customer journey approach to ensure all touch point and cross contamination risks are identified and addressed with suitable risk management?
  • Have customers been encouraged to use contactless or cashless payment (you will need to ensure access for people who do not have contactless, so they are not excluded)?
  • Are controls in place to minimise touching, or to isolate or clean any merchandise that has been touched by a member of the public but not purchased?
  • Do you have adequate disposal arrangements available for any additional waste generated from enhanced cleaning?

Movement around your event site

  • How can you reduce the overall movement on your event site? (If the event activity encourages attendees to move around the event site you may need to rethink the way your event is going to work. Activity such as dancing, gathering and freely moving around becomes problematic in relation to the spread of COVID-19. Using the static approach, providing attendees with a bookable space where they will remain for the duration of the event is a good approach to hosting events during COVID-19)
  • Can movement be managed through the provision of floor markings, bookable spaces, and a one-way system around your event site?


Before customers arrive, communicate the following information with them:

  • How the event will work
  • Anyone who is unwell or required to self-isolate should not come to the event
  • Social distancing and good hand and respiratory hygiene while attending your event is extremely important
  • If children are permitted to attend your event, accompanying adults must be responsible for supervising them at all times

During your event, consider how you will communicate and reinforce messages about good hand washing techniques, hand washing frequency, social distancing, avoiding touching your face and what to do if you become unwell during your event.

NHS Test and Trace

Do you have processes in place so you can meet your responsibilities in relation to the NHS Test and Trace system, in order to help contain outbreaks early and reduce the spread of COVID-19? Visit GOV.UK for detailed information about Test and Trace

Managing people with symptoms on site

Do you have a plan in place to deal with any member of staff or attendees who present themselves with symptoms of COVID-19?

Have you considered creating an isolation or quarantine area from the start of construction through to the end of breakdown?

Music, singing and shouting

  • Have you made sure that you are avoiding any activity that promotes singing, chanting, shouting? (These activities can project particles and naturally spreads germs)
  • Will any background music be at a level that means that attendees and workers are able to speak to each other without raising their voices or needing to edge closer to each other?

Performing arts (including live music at events)

Have you checked whether performance is permitted at the time of your event?

Visit GOV.UK for details about which stage in the performing arts road map we are currently at and specific guidance on both indoor and outdoor performance.

Keeping your workers safe

  • Have you given information packs to staff with details on your event’s COVID-19 policy, social distancing, travelling to work, break times, PPE and action plans?
  • Do you have plans for comprehensive staff training on the safe use and disposal of PPE?
  • Have you given information to staff on how to travel to and from work safely, including walking, cycling, public transport and avoiding car sharing if possible and reducing risks if it does happen? Visit GOV.UK for details about safer travel 
  • Are staff aware of their responsibilities with regards to self isolating should they or a member of their household develop symptoms?
  • How are you ensuring that all suppliers, traders and caterers also work in line with COVID-19 policy?
  • Can you use signage, tannoy announcements and any other relevant communication tools to remind staff when working and in their break areas to maintain hygiene standards and social distancing?
  • Is a schedule in place for the frequent cleaning of work areas, staff rooms, shower and changing facilities, canteens and equipment for staff use, and have they been trained to use the schedule?
  • Are all staff areas large enough to allow social distancing of staff, 2m wherever possible, 1m with risk mitigation only be where 2m is not viable? (Where social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue, if it does, steps must be taken to reduce the risk of transmission between staff)
  • Can staff start and finish times be staggered?
  • Have you considered using a consistent pairing or grouping system where workforce work on shifts together?

Protecting people who are at higher risk

How will you be aware of any staff member who is at higher risk and make reasonable adjustments for both staff and customers who may require it?

Visit the NHS website for details about people at higher risk from coronavirus. 

Visit GOV.UK for details on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

Professional bodies

If you have specific activity taking place at your event, have you sought specialist guidance on this activity from a professional body (for example, outdoor performance, cycling, table tennis and so on)?

Suppliers, traders and caterers

Although suppliers, traders and caterers need to supply their own risk assessment, have you fulfilled your responsibility in ensuring that it is submitted in accordance with your venue's COVID-19 policy?