Can I host an event during the Coronavirus pandemic? How can I make a venue COVID secure? All your questions, answered

How do the COVID-19 guidelines affect events and what are venues doing to minimise risk?

Updated on 10 September 2020 • Written By Henry Coldstream

Can I host an event during the Coronavirus pandemic? How can I make a venue COVID secure? All your questions, answered

There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the most difficult periods in recent history for a number of industries. With so many different rules and ever-changing guidelines in place, companies across all sectors have had to try to adapt to a new normal and find ways of functioning within these guidelines. Clearly, this is trickier for some more than others. The venues and events industry was thriving pre-pandemic, but due to the fact it’s built around large groups of people being all together in one place, it has been thrown into chaos by COVID.

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During the initial national lockdown, all venues were asked to close by the government and in-person events naturally completely ceased while people could only see others within their household. However, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson has gradually eased restrictions, some venues have begun to reopen and some small events have also begun to take place. As you can imagine, everyone is wanting to host events after such an unusual and uncertain period of time, whether it be weddings, parties, or corporate weekends away. However, understandably there are still a number of restrictions in place, meaning only certain types of events can go ahead and for those that can, there are certain precautions and rules which need to be followed.

With the government’s advice constantly changing at the moment, it can be hard to stay up-to-date with exactly what the rules are, particularly in regards to things like venues and events. So, to help you out we’ve put together a comprehensive guide below to the do’s and don’ts of hosting an event during the pandemic. So whether you’re just wondering if you’re allowed to host a party at the moment, or want to know how to make a venue COVID secure, we’ve got you covered.

What are the current COVID rules for events?

From Monday 14 September the government has implemented a rule stating that people can no longer meet up inside or outside in groups larger than six people. This means that except for certain exemptions, you are unable to host an event with over six people in attendance. Up until this point, small events up to a maximum number of 30 people were allowed to take place as long as those attending abided by social distancing rules, and the relevant precautions had been taken by the venue. Social distancing guidlines currently state that you should keep two metres apart from anyone outside your household where possible, and when not possible should keep at least one metre apart.

What are the exemptions to the rule of six?

There are some exemptions to the rule of six which mean that certain events are allowed to take place. Weddings, funerals and other special religious occasions are allowed to go ahead with up to 30 people in attendance. Also, events relating to training and education are also able to go ahead with over six people.

What are the rules for weddings?

As mentioned above weddings and civil partnerships are able to go ahead with a maximum of 30 people in attendance despite the rule of six. They are also events on the exemption list which additionally allow a celebration after the service. This means that you can also host a wedding reception, providing that this also has no more than 30 people present. The 30 people must include the couple getting married, any officiants, and guests. Social distancing must also be adhered to at all times, meaning that an appropriately sized venue is required. As it is currently mandatory to wear a mask when inside a place of worship, all those attending will need to wear a mask apart from the people getting married, who are exempt during the service. The guidelines also state that there cannot be any singing or musical instruments played during the service as it increases the transmission of the virus.

Can you still hire a venue at the moment?

There is nothing to stop you from hiring a venue at the moment, so long as your event doesn’t break any of the guidelines. Make sure to check directly with the venue to see if they are taking bookings and to discuss your event to see what precautions would be necessary. One great option for parties now that the rule of six has been implemented is to hire out a private dining room at a restaurant for up to six people. This gives you the privacy of having your own space, like hiring a venue, while also following the government’s guidelines.

Are business events and conferences allowed to go ahead?

The most recent update from the government with regards to conferences came in late July, when they stated that business events, conferences and event centres would be given the go-ahead to reopen on 1 October provided infection rates stayed the same. However, with rules starting to be reintroduced currently, we will need to wait to see if this is actually the case. Events within the office, or for training purposes are allowed to take place though, as long as social distancing rules are adhered to.

How can you make a venue COVID-secure?

The government has put together a list of guidelines on how to ensure a venue is COVID-secure, which we have summarised below:

  1. Deep clean the space both before and after it is used.
  2. Introduce one-way systems where needed to avoid crowding, and manage arrival times.
  3. Have signs up reminding people to abide by social distancing rules.
  4. Ensure that everyone entering the venue is wearing a face covering and has washed or sanitised their hands both before entering and leaving the venue.
  5. Take steps to minimise noise so that people do not need to raise their voices, as this increases risk of transmission.
  6. Make sure there is a system in place to collect people’s details for the NHS track and trace system.

How can you check what precautions a venue has taken?

The best way to check what precautions a venue has taken in advance is to get in touch with the venue directly either online or over the phone.

Do you need to wear a mask when attending an event?

You currently are required by the government to wear face coverings in the majority of public indoor spaces, including places of worship, museums, exhibition halls and conference centres. However, you are not required to wear a face covering in restaurants, bars, or pubs, meaning that if you decide to hire a private dining room or host an event in a bar, you will not need to wear a mask.

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