Licensing - Major Events

Events - Covid Secure

Hosting a COVID Secure Event - Guidance

Whilst we understand that the government’s restrictions on trading are affecting businesses, the most important message is still to control the virus and save lives. Everyone can play a part in achieving this by following the Government’s guidance, by maintaining social distancing. Part of the attraction of attending events often includes socialising and consuming alcohol. This can lead to attendees engaging in more risky behaviours and taking less notices of the rules around social distancing or contravening government guidance. This behaviour is foreseeable and must be anticipated by event organisers, you must therefore put in place control measures to reduce these risks. The measures you take might be over and above your normal trading procedures but the prevention of a second spike in virus cases is of paramount importance in order to save lives.

You must take extra responsibility to ensure that you have considered the transmission of COVID-19 and must undertake a risk assessment in order to ensure that all aspects of your event are COVID-19 Secure. Guidance on producing a risk assessment can be found at Environmental Health - Food Safety and Standards

The government’s working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines set out the requirements against which you must assess your premises in order to make your event Covid-19 secure. Depending on the nature of your event you may need to consider more than one guidance document, for example, if you are an outdoor arena providing entertainment, selling merchandise and food and drink, you will need to consider the guidance for Performing Arts, the Visitor Economy, Pubs and Restaurants and Shops and Branches. This guidance will help you identify what control measures will need to be implemented to ensure that you fulfil your obligations for risk assessment under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees and persons not in your employment. These controls are generic, and they must be tailored to the specific circumstances of your business. 

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions)(No 2) (England) Regulation 2020. Prohibits gatherings of over 30 persons in a private dwelling, vessel, houseboat or land.  However if a gathering is organised by a business, a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution, a public body, or a political body the event may take place if the person responsible for organising the event has:

  • carried out a risk assessment which would satisfy the requirements of regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999(1), whether or not the gathering organiser is subject to those Regulations, and
  • the gathering organiser has taken all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus, taking into account the risk assessment above.

It remains the case that individuals should not:

  • socialise indoors in groups of more than two households (anyone in a support bubble counts as one household) – this includes when dining out or going to the pub
  • socialise outdoors in a group of more than six people from different households; gatherings larger than six should only take place if everyone is from exclusively from the same household or from two households or support bubbles
  • interact socially with anyone outside the group they are attending a place with, even if they see other people they know, for example, in a restaurant, community centre or place of worship
  • hold or attend celebrations (such as parties) where it is difficult to maintain social distancing, besides small wedding celebrations as outlined above
  • stay overnight away from their home with members of more than one other household (their support bubble counts as one household)

The below points are designed to be used in conjunction with the guidance and highlight some of the areas that event organisers will need to carefully consider in order to hold an event in a COVID secure environment. This is an example of some of the areas that you may need to consider and should be used to support the risk assessment:

  • Notify either the IWC’s Licensing or Environmental Health Department at least two weeks in advance of the event and supply them with an event plan and suitable risk assessments. 
  • Must determine the maximum capacity you will permit for the event, ensuring that social distancing can be maintained. It is advisable to document how the capacity has been calculated.  (this should include the need to define the number of customers that can follow 2m social distancing within the venue, considering floor space, seating setting up as well as likely pinch points and busy areas.
  • You must consider how to manage queuing when entering and leaving the event, as well as for toilets, food and other services so that social distancing can be maintained. Consider the use of floor markings for other common areas such as entry points, food and drink points, toilets and any other areas where queues may typically form.
  • Ensure attendees are not in groups of more than six people from different households. Or, if the group is more than six, ensure everyone is either exclusively from the same household or from no more than two households or support bubbles.
  • If your event is a ticked/registered event, is a register of attendees subject to data sharing agreements, avaible that would assist with contract tracing if someone attending the event does have Covid-19.
  • Singing and playing of wind or brass instruments is limited to professionals only.
  • When members of the public are attending, performances, organisers should ensure that steps are taken to avoid audiences needing to unduly raise their voices to each other. This includes, but is not limited to, refraining from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, including if played at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult, for example during performance intervals. This is because of the potential for increased risk of transmission - particularly from aerosol and droplet transmission.
  • Discouraging or avoiding activities or features that are likely to encourage audience behaviours increasing transmission risk, such as crowding, clustering, communal dancing and physical contact outside of household groups or support bubbles.
  • It is recommended that you advise attendees prior to the event, and at the start of the event, of the behaviour expected e.g. no singing and maintaining social distance.
  • You must consider how you will ensure that any behaviour that is outside the expected ‘event rules’ is addressed.  It is advisable to consider the use of SIA security staff, particularly if alcohol is being sold at the event or, if people are permitted to bring their own as in these instances it is often more difficult to monitor the amounts of alcohol being consumed.
  • Toilet provisions should be reviewed to ensure that there are enough facilities for the number of patrons and queues are minimised.
  • You must implement cleaning procedures which ensure hand contact surfaces are regularly cleaned.
  • It is recommended that hand sanitiser is provided at queuing points.
  • You must review security and emergency procedures to ensure they enable social distancing as far as possible, or that alternative controls are in place, for example when providing first aid.
  • Check your ticketing Terms and Conditions  and ensure that you are clear about your ticketing refund strategy and that the impact of cancellation or postponement is understood and communicated effectively to your customers.
  • We suggest that your public liability insurance covers covid-19 in terms of infection control and cancellation due to local restrictions.

Risk Assessments

Please note that the Local Authority will not approve any risk assessments.  The risk assessments are the event organisers documents and should reflect the significant hazards from the event, including covid-19 and identify the measures that need to be taken to ensure that people are safe as well as to comply with Health and Safety law. Risk assessments for covid-19 will need to be active during the whole event and a person will need to be responsible for reviewing as the event takes place.  Specifically, as human behaviour will play a significant role in achieving a safe environment, therefore communication, instruction and supervision play an important role at any event. Should an incident occur which requires investigating under Health and Safety legislation then their risk assessments and arrangements to implement and manage control measures will be considered as a part of any investigation.


The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No.3) Regulations 2020 came into force on 18 July 2020. These regulations give local authorities powers to issue directions imposing prohibitions, requirements or restrictions in relation to the holding of indoor and outside events as well as the use of outdoor spaces in its area, if they are satisfied that:

  1. to hold the event would pose a serious and imminent threat to public health
  2. that it is necessary to do so to prevent and protect against controlling spread of infection of coronavirus in the area, and
  3. that the prohibitions, requirements or restrictions imposed are a proportionate means of achieving that purpose.

Please be advised that for any event where the proposed number of people expected to attend exceeds 30, the expectation is that this will require a comprehensive risk assessment detailing the safety controls that will be implemented throughout all areas of the event to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. The risk assessment must be suitable to enable officers to determine whether or not the measures proposed are sufficient to adequately protect both staff and the public. This process must have considered the specific risks associated with the event, including for example, the anticipated level of attendance and the activities that are due to take place as well as the control measures in line with the Government guidance and how these are to be implemented. Failure to provide a suitable risk assessment is likely to result in objections being raised to any TEN submission or licence application by the Responsible Authorities. Please also be advised any event, may still be subject to the above measures, if at the time the prevalence of the infection rate is such that to continue to hold the event would pose an imminent threat to public health.  Events and infection control data in the Local area will be kept under constant review and any event may be subject to these measures up to and including the day of the proposed event.

Further advice is available from the licensing team who can be emailed at or telephone 01983 823159 or the Environmental Health team who can be emailed at or telephone 01983 823000.