How London venues and event spaces are preparing to reopen following Covid-19

When will venues open their doors and what safety measures will be in place?

Updated on 22 September 2020 • Written By Eamonn Crowe

How London venues and event spaces are preparing to reopen following Covid-19

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is undoubtedly the defining event of 2020, with the long-term impact on the UK’s economy yet to be seen. With the hospitality and service industries having dominated much of the headlines in the last few months, it is easy to forget that there is another industry that has been shattered by Coronavirus - the events sector.

Events professionals up and down the country saw their lives come to a standstill when music venues, galleries, historical landmarks and corporate event spaces were all forced to temporarily shut their doors in order to help stop the spread of the virus and keep people safe. In early July, pubs and restaurants were allowed to reopen for in-room dining, while in mid-August, indoor venues were given the green light to reopen with social distancing measures in place.

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Like with restaurants in the hospitality sector, many corporate event spaces rely on filling out their spaces with large groups, hosting the likes of fashion shows, art installations and Christmas parties in order to make money. Social distancing guidelines mean that many UK venues will reopen operating with a limited capacity and it is yet to be seen whether businesses will return to having in-person meetings, corporate retreats or parties in the near future. There is no sugar coating that this is the hardest challenge the events industry has ever faced. However, if there is one thing we know at SquareMeal, it is that events professionals are some of the most resilient, creative and passionate individuals we’ve ever had the pleasure of working with, so if anyone is up to the challenge, it’s them.

To gauge how people in the industry are feeling, we went out and spoke to some of the leading venues around the capital, to find out how they plan to reopen and what a visit to their Covid-secure sites will look like. Read below to find out what you can expect…


Catherine Owen, Head of Venue Sales & Marketing at 10-11 Carlton House Terrace

Is it open?

“At 10-11, we were lucky enough to begin hosting small bookings since the government allowed it in late summer. The first was an interview panel for just seven people but it offered the perfect opportunity for us to make sure that all the new measures and systems we’ve worked hard to implement did their job, without intruding on the experience of the guests. Since then, we’ve also played host to some gorgeous micro weddings, photoshoots and other small meetings.”

What measures are in place?

“The core measures we’ve put in place include a number of the obvious things like disinfecting ‘high-traffic’ touch-points hourly (restrooms, door handles, lift panels, etc.) as well as doing those in event spaces (furniture, AV equipment, etc.) at least twice a day or in-between uses. Signage to indicate one-way systems or venue-specific rules has been implemented venue-wide. Catering has been transformed into a touch-free experience with the help of our in-house catering partners, Searcys, and all staff are required to wear PPE. Video conferencing facilities are now included for free at every event and the maximum capacities have been lowered to ensure guests can maintain a 2m distance. More than anything, we want clients and visitors to feel comfortable when they start attending events again. We’re just doing as much as possible to make that a reality.”

Anything else to know?

"10-11 Carlton House Terrace recently became the first venue to achieve a new benchmark set out by Stress Matters, that guarantees a mental health first aider at every event. All members of the events team were fully trained as MHFAs to achieve this."


Sarah McQueen, Assistant Head of Commercial Services at Museum of London

Is it open?

“The Museum of London and the Museum of London Docklands reopened on 6 August and it’s been fantastic seeing visitors through the doors once again to enjoy our incredible collections.”

What measures are in place?

“We are currently able to host meetings and weddings for up to 30 guests having implemented the necessary Covid compliant protocols. These new procedures have been introduced onsite across the entire events process and include revised capacities in our event spaces, touch free hand sanitiser dispensers, increased cleaning regime and dedicated cleaners, PPE for onsite staff and additional signage and floor markings to help social distancing requirements. To aid organisers who are managing events where delegates are unable to attend physically, we’ve developed a variety of hybrid and live streaming packages that can be managed in-house.”

Anything else to know?

“We’re very excited to have two new exhibitions available across both museums with Dub London: Bassline of a City launching on 2 October at the Museum of London and Havering Hoard: A Bronze Age Mystery, which recently opened at the Museum of London Docklands. Both exhibitions can be incorporated into physical events but are also available to be viewed virtually. We’ve recently been working with clients who want to bring their teams or VIPs together to enjoy something a little different to a typical Zoom meeting, and a private virtual tour of one of our galleries or exhibitions alongside an exclusive Q&A with one of our curators has been a huge hit!”


Mark Richardson, events manager at Namco Funscape

Is it open?

“We re-opened Namco Funscape County Hall on 8 July with just our arcades, VR and bumper cars initially available. 1 August saw us re-open our bars and kitchen, followed by our bowling, ping pong and pool on 15 August.”

What measures are in place?

“As with all other venues, we have extensive signage to remind our guests to keep a social distance, to wear a face mask and to wash their hands regularly. There are also hand sanitiser stations and antibacterial wipes available throughout.

Changes have also been made to the venue layout, including a one-way system and a number of machines moved to accommodate social distancing. In all of our bars you are now able to order direct from your table using a smartphone or tablet, reducing any need to queue and have your drinks delivered straight to your table.”

Anything else to know?

“In the future we look forward to welcoming back larger groups to enjoy our fun-packed venue, and all booked events will have a dedicated Event Manager. Your Event Manager will be in touch prior to your event to run through our safety measures, they will also make contact post event to run through any feedback you have; it's always great to know what we are doing well and if there is anything we can do even better!”


Daniel Caleb, Event Spaces Manager at Wellcome Collection

Is it open?

Wellcome Collection will be reopening it’s venue hire, galleries and library on 7 October. The team are ready and waiting to welcome everyone back into the building with social distancing measures in place.”

What measures are in place?

“We have been talking to our regular venue hire organisers to discuss our new capacities with social distancing and to go through the various processes we have in place now such as:
- Increased cleaning with sanitiser stations
- Social distancing measures in all rooms: these have been done at 2m, 1.5m and 1m so the organiser    has a full set to select from
- Socially distanced menus with our catering teams
- 72 hour quarantine of microphones
- Timed tickets to the galleries and library
- One way system around the building

Anything else to know?

“In addition to this we have evaluated our procedures for running events, partnered with two AV companies to introduce Hybrid Packages and also we are about to start giving all rooms a face lift ready for the reopening.”

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