Local authority preparations for Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day

Updated 9 November 2020

Applies to England

This note sets out how Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day activities can take place in line with current COVID-19 restrictions and requirements in England.

From 5 November, there are new national restrictions in England. Other information contained in this note is based on existing guidance, and has been brought together to aid those organising local activities for Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day.

Who can organise a Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day event?

Local Authorities in England and faith leaders can organise outdoor Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day events at a public war memorial or cenotaph, if you complete a COVID-19 risk assessment and take all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the virus. Where necessary, you should engage with neighbouring businesses, transport operators and local transport authorities to assess any risks to the local area of increased visitors from other locations and apply additional mitigations if needed.

What can a Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day event involve?

The Remembrance Sunday event at the National Cenotaph will be adjusted this year to ensure the event is as safe as possible. Local events should be adapted to reflect the same principles. They should:

  • be outdoors, as transmission risks are significantly reduced
  • be short and focussed on wreath laying, with a reduced march past or parade only if social distancing can be maintained
  • take advantage of opportunities for wreath layers to represent wider groups
  • any small, military bands should observe social distancing. Buglers can perform outdoors at Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day events
  • keep numbers to a minimum, focussing attendance on those wishing to lay wreaths (more information on who can attend below)
  • take reasonable steps to minimise wider public viewing. The public can only attend the event with their own household or those in their support bubble, or individually with one other person from outside their household.
  • observe social distancing at all times

Limited communal singing, involving the national anthem and one additional song, is permitted outside for Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day, if additional mitigations are put in place. Steps that will need to be taken are:

  • communal singing must be outdoors only
  • songs should be a few minutes or less
  • there should be 2 metres between attendees
  • any surrounding surfaces that are touched should be regularly cleaned
  • there must be very clear rules about non-attendance of the symptomatic, those who are isolating as close contacts of a case or who has been advised to do so by NHS Test & Trace and those quarantining
  • all relevant rules on gatherings are to be followed
  • consideration should be given to the vulnerability of some individuals

Who can attend a Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day event?

Event organisers should keep numbers of those participating in the event to a minimum. For the avoidance of doubt, the following people are legally permitted to attend events to commemorate Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day as participants. Attendees should observe social distancing at all times. Attendees should also take advantage of opportunities for wreath layers to represent wider groups.

  • people attending as part of their work (such as local councillors, local faith leaders, the local MP)
  • people attending in a voluntary capacity on behalf of a recognised organisation
  • members of the armed forces
  • veterans of the armed forces, and/or their representatives or carers

Members of the public are legally permitted to stop and watch the event as spectators, but event organisers should take reasonable steps to discourage the public from attending events, and be mindful of the risk that such events pose, especially to veterans who are often elderly.

Where members of the public do attend, they must only attend the event with their own household or those in their support bubble, or one other person (children under school age, as well as those dependent on round-the-clock care, such as those with severe disabilities, who are with their parents will not count towards the limit on 2 people meeting outside) and observe social distancing rules.

Those who are symptomatic, have recently been symptomatic, tested positive for COVID-19, or a contact of someone symptomatic or identified by the NHS Test & Trace programme should not attend. See the current guidance for people who have symptoms and those who live with others who have symptoms.

Event organisers should review the updated guidance on the clinically extremely vulnerable, and ensure this is taken into account when planning events.

Test and Trace

Event organisers must take reasonable steps to record the contact details of those attending (including those present in a working capacity, and members of the public who stop to spectate).

Event organisers must keep a temporary record of attendees for 21 days, in a way that is manageable, and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed. This could help contain clusters or outbreaks. Further detail can be found in the current Test and Trace guidance.

Those responsible for organising events, and businesses working on an event site, must also keep records of staff working patterns for a period of 21 days.

Many organisations already have systems for recording their attendees. You can find details of how to maintain records.

There is also an NHS App which can be used to log in attendees.

It should be noted that those found not to be compliant with these regulations may be subject to financial penalties.

Please note the legal requirement on recording contact details does not extend to places of worship, however it is strongly advised that recording is put in place where possible.

Communal worship

Remembrance Sunday services are traditionally part of communal worship. From 5 November, places of worship are not permitted to open for communal worship. Celebrants may, however, enter places of worship to broadcast services to their communities and will be able to incorporate Remembrance services as part of this when they do so.