Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Events and attractions

Guidance for people who work in settings related to events and visitor attractions.

Applies to England See the guidance for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Plan B: upcoming changes

The government has announced that the measures put in place under Plan B of the Autumn/Winter COVID-19 response in England will be lifted.

This means that workers are no longer asked to work from home if they can. Employers should talk to their workers to agree arrangements to return to the workplace. Read the section on going to the workplace for more information.

From 27 January:

  • There will no longer be a legal requirement for people to wear face coverings. People are still advised to wear one in crowded and indoor spaces where they may come into contact with people they do not normally meet.
  • Venues and events will no longer be required by law to check the COVID status of their customers. They can still choose to use the NHS COVID Pass on a voluntary basis.

This guidance will be updated shortly to include more information on these changes.

What’s changed

21 January 2022: Workers are no longer asked to work from home if they can. The sections on going to the workplace, reducing contact for workers and people who need to self-isolate have been updated to remove references to working from home.

Priority actions

There are 8 main actions you can take to protect yourself, your staff and your customers during coronavirus (COVID-19). These are called priority actions as they are important steps that will apply to most businesses. Read the full guidance for advice on how to do this in a way that works for your workplace.

  1. Complete a health and safety risk assessment that includes risks from COVID-19. This should consider the points below in the rest of this guidance. It should also take into account any reasonable adjustments needed for staff and customers with disabilities. You should share your risk assessment with your staff. Read more about risk assessments and additional advice for event organisers.

  2. Provide adequate ventilation. Make sure there is an adequate supply of fresh air to enclosed spaces where there are people present. This can be natural ventilation (windows, doors and vents), mechanical ventilation (fans and ducts), or a combination of both. Identify any poorly ventilated spaces that are usually occupied (a CO2 monitor may help in some cases) and consider how to improve fresh air flow in these areas. Heritage locations should take into account the preservation of the building or artefacts displayed. Read more in the section on ventilation.

  3. Remind your staff and customers to wear face coverings in indoor spaces where it is required by law (unless they are exempt or have a reasonable excuse to remove them). Customers are legally required to wear face coverings in most indoor public places, and on transport services open to the public. Staff must also wear face coverings in areas where they are likely to come into contact with a member of the public. You must notify people if face coverings are required in areas of your business, for example by putting up signs. Download and print a poster you can put up in your business. Read about face coverings.

  4. Clean more often. It’s especially important to clean surfaces that people touch a lot. Heritage locations should ensure cleaning materials and schedules are appropriate for historic surfaces and materials. You should ask your staff and your customers to use hand sanitiser and to clean their hands frequently. Read more about cleaning and hygiene.

  5. Turn away people with COVID-19 symptoms. Staff members or customers should self-isolate immediately if they show any symptoms of COVID-19 and take a PCR test as soon as possible, even if they are fully vaccinated. If they receive a positive COVID-19 test result, they must complete their full self-isolation period. They must also self-isolate if they are informed by NHS Test and Trace that they are a contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, unless they are exempt (see more on when people need to self-isolate). If you know that a worker is legally required to self-isolate, you must not allow them to come to work. It’s an offence to do this. Read more about COVID-19 cases in the workplace.

  6. Check the COVID status of visitors and staff to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading. Some venues and events are legally required to check the COVID status of all attendees aged 18 and over. You can only admit people who are fully vaccinated, have proof of a negative COVID-19 test result in the last 48 hours, or are exempt from these requirements. You are strongly advised to check that workers (aged 18 and over) in customer-facing roles meet these requirements. Read more about COVID status checks.

  7. Enable people to check in at your venue. You can also choose to display an NHS QR code poster so people can check in at your venue, to help NHS Test and Trace to reduce the spread of the virus. Read about NHS QR codes.

  8. Communicate and train. Tell workers and customers how to visit your workplace safely, and keep them updated on your safety measures. Read more about communicating with workers and communicating with customers.

Some areas or types of facility within your premises or event may have their own specific guidance. If this is relevant to you, review the guidance for hospitality venues (such as cafes and bars), shops, branches and close contact services, offices, factories and labs, construction and other outdoor work, and hotels and guest accommodation. You can also check with relevant organisations in your sector, as they may have tailored advice for specific types of facility or business.

Introduction

In this section:

What this guidance covers

This document gives you guidance on how to manage your workplace safely and organise events while reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19. It provides practical considerations on how to apply this in a workplace which provides visitor attractions (such as a theatre, historic building, theme park or conference centre) or when organising events (such as exhibitions, trade shows, live performances, festivals, street events and sporting events).

This guidance is informed by the findings of the Events Research Programme, which conducted research at pilot events (including sport, theatre, live music and business events) to establish how transmission risks can be reduced and managed. It includes advice for event organisers and local authorities on how to manage risks to ensure that events can take place safely.

To help you decide which actions to take, you must carry out an appropriate assessment of the risks that apply to your workplace (find out how to do a risk assessment). You can then identify the most appropriate actions to help to keep staff, customers and others safe. You must consult unions or workers as part of this process, and you may also want to consult industry representatives.

You are not required to implement every action listed in this guidance. You should use this guidance to consider the risk within your business and help decide the appropriate measures to adopt. The priority actions are a good place to start, as they are important measures which will apply to most businesses.

This guidance does not supersede your existing legal obligations relating to health and safety, employment and equalities duties. It’s important that as a business or an employer you continue to comply with your existing obligations. This includes those relating to equality between individuals with different protected characteristics. This document contains non-statutory guidance to take into account when complying with these existing obligations.

Remember this guidance does not just cover your workers. You must also take into account customers and guests, agency workers, contractors, volunteers and other people who visit your workplace.

Who this guidance is for

This guidance is aimed at business owners, operators and workers in the following areas.

Visitor attractions and recreational facilities

  • Indoor and outdoor attractions, such as guided tours, water parks and theme parks, funfairs and fairgrounds, visitor attractions at film studios, and animal attractions at zoos, safari parks, aquariums, and wildlife centres.
  • Leisure and recreation facilities, such as arcades, family entertainment centres, adult gaming centres, bowling alleys, skating rinks, go-karting venues, laser quest, escape rooms, paintballing, indoor play and soft play centres and areas (including inflatable parks), adventure parks and activities (such as ziplining), and trampolining centres.
  • Heritage attractions open to the public, such as a castle, historic house, historic park, garden or landscape, industrial heritage monument or open-air site including mobile heritage.
    • This includes nationally designated heritage assets such as nationally listed buildings (Grade I, II* or II), scheduled monuments, registered parks and gardens (Grade I, II* or II), cultural World Heritage Sites and registered battlefields.
    • It also covers all archaeological sites, as most archaeological fieldwork is carried out on non-designated archaeological sites. This also includes businesses and organisations which work in/on historic buildings or on sites with heritage significance (including work on historic marine sites such as licensees of Protected Wrecks), such as construction, fieldwork or conservation activity. These types of settings and businesses may also wish to review any relevant advice in the guidance for construction and outdoor work.
  • Sites or places open to the public that occupy a historic structure, site or landscape, such as a place of worship which happens to be a historic building.
  • Performing arts venues, such as theatres, concert halls, and dedicated music venues (which host music and other programming artists that perform in front of audiences).

Events

  • Indoor and outdoor events of any size, organised by businesses, charitable organisations, or public bodies. This includes business events (such as conferences, exhibitions, conventions, consumer/trade shows and other events and meetings), grassroots sport events, performing arts events (including theatre, music and other live performance events and festivals), and other events (including shows, fashion events, street events and fairs).
  • Elite sport competitions, where they are run as an event with spectators. If you are organising an elite sport event, you should ensure it operates in line with the guidance for elite sport which covers all other aspects of elite sport operations. You should also follow the relevant measures for events in this guidance, where you are organising an event with spectators, as well as maintaining your business-as-usual engagement with Safety Advisory Groups and other relevant partners.
  • Local authorities and other local partners, who work with event organisers to ensure that events can take place safely.

This guidance does not cover:

  • Hotels and other guest accommodation (such as self-catering accommodation, B&Bs, camping and caravan parks, hostels, holiday homes, boats and short-term lets), except where there are relevant events and activities taking place in that facility. For advice on everyday operations and running of hotels and guest accommodation, see the hotels and guest accommodation guidance.
  • Grassroots sport participation, provision and facilities - see the separate guidance for grassroots sport facilities.
  • Elite sport operations and management (including events without spectators) - see the separate guidance for elite sport.

  • Transport services as a visitor attraction or tourism activity, such as hire of boats and planes, and domestic cruises. You can find the advice on these services in the safer transport guidance for operators. Where these services are used for holiday accommodation (such as caravans, or holiday hire of boats), this is covered by the hotels and guest accommodation guidance.

  • Other types of heritage organisation, including those listed below. However some aspects of this guidance are likely to be relevant, and operators can follow these measures where it would help them to manage their locations safely.
    • Historic buildings that are solely private residences.
    • Museums which are in historic buildings should have reference both to this guidance and to the specific guidance for the museums sector issued by the National Museum Directors’ Council, and which has been prepared in line with guidance published by the government.
    • Sites designated locally such as conservation areas or buildings on local lists, and other heritage projects with comparable considerations including industrial, maritime and transport heritage assets.

Risk assessments

In this section:

As an employer, by law you must protect workers and others (including contractors, volunteers, customers and other users) from risks to their health and safety. This includes risks from COVID-19. COVID-19 transmission is a hazard that can occur in the workplace. You should manage it in the same way as other workplace hazards.

You must:

  • complete a risk assessment of COVID-19 in the workplace
  • identify ways to manage those risks

Doing a risk assessment will help you decide whether you have done everything you need to to manage the risks of COVID-19.

Failure to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, and put in place control measures to manage the risk of COVID-19 in the workplace, may be considered a breach of health and safety law.

How to do a risk assessment

Follow the steps set out in the Health and Safety Executive’s guidance on how to do a risk assessment and how to assess COVID-19 risks.

This will help you to:

  • identify what work activity or situations might cause transmission of COVID-19
  • think about who could be at risk
  • decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed
  • identify the controls needed to reduce the risk
  • monitor the controls you put in place to make sure they are working as you expected

If you have 5 or more employees, you are required to record your risk assessment. You can use the risk assessment templates provided by HSE. If you have fewer than 5 workers you do not have to write anything down as part of your risk assessment, but you may find it helpful to do so.

Consult your workers

You should include your workers in this process. As an employer, you have a legal duty to consult workers on health and safety matters. You can do this by listening and talking to them about the work they do and how you will manage the risks from COVID-19.

If there are recognised trade union health and safety representatives who represent your workers, you must consult them. If any of your workers are not represented by trade union representatives, you can either consult those workers directly or a representative they have chosen. You cannot decide who the representative will be.

Raising concerns

Employers and workers should always come together to resolve issues.

You should let your employees know that they can tell you if they’re worried about any workplace risks. They can also contact their employee representative or their trade union (if they have one).

Employees can also contact the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) if they have concerns.

They can submit a working safely enquiry form or contact HSE’s COVID-19 enquiries team on 0300 790 6787 (Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm).

Enforcement

Enforcing authorities identify employers who do not take action to comply with the relevant law and guidance to control public health risks. When they do, they can take a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks. The HSE and your local authority are examples of enforcing authorities.

When they identify serious breaches, enforcing authorities can do a number of things. These include:

  • sending you a letter.
  • serving you with an improvement or prohibition notice.
  • bringing a prosecution against you, in cases where they identify significant breaches.

If an enforcing authority issues you with any advice or notices, you should respond rapidly and within their timescales. Inspectors are carrying out compliance checks nationwide to ensure that employers are taking the necessary steps.

You can find more information on enforcement in the sections on face coverings and managing COVID status checks.

Local authority powers - public health

Local authorities have temporary powers to help them to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic. This means they can place restrictions on a business if there is a serious and imminent threat to public health because of COVID-19. This could mean limiting the number of people who can attend an event, changing the way a venue operates to reduce the risk of transmission or prohibiting an event from happening.

These powers can only be used where they are necessary to protect public health. The measures imposed by the local authority must be a proportionate way to secure that protection. They cannot be used to place blanket restrictions on types of events or venues. See the guidance on local authority powers to impose restrictions for more information.

Event organisers can find more advice on working with local authorities in the section on event planning.

Managing risk

To carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, you should consider all the different ways the virus can be spread (aerosols, droplets and surfaces) and put in place measures that work together to reduce the risk of transmission.

To identify the most effective and appropriate actions for your workplace, think about the transmission types that present the greatest risk in your workplace and the actions that would help you to reduce the risks. This will depend on the nature of your business (including the size and type of workplace), and how it’s organised, operated, managed and regulated.

Some activities can increase the risk of catching or passing on COVID-19. This happens where people are doing activities which generate more particles as they breathe heavily, such as singing, dancing, exercising or raising their voices. You should consider the specific risks of your facility or event, and take additional care to manage situations where there is a higher risk of catching or passing on COVID-19.

If you are organising events, you should also consider the risk factors identified by the Events Research Programme when undertaking risk assessments for your event or venue. Read additional risk guidance for events.

Some risk assessments may need to be broken down to cover different areas and different time periods within the same venue, particularly for large events. For example, those working at concession stands may be in an area with large concentrations of people for a significant part of the event, whereas attendees will move in and out of the area and have less exposure.

You should ensure that your risk assessment can explain the actions you are taking and why they have been chosen. You should monitor any measures you put in place to make sure they continue to protect customers and workers, and update your risk assessment if needed.

What to include in your risk assessment

The main way of spreading COVID-19 is through close contact with an infected person. When someone with COVID-19 breathes, speaks, coughs or sneezes, they release particles containing the virus that causes COVID-19. These particles can be breathed in by another person as aerosols or droplets.

  • You can reduce aerosol (airborne) transmission by ensuring the workplace is well-ventilated. This could mean increasing natural ventilation by letting in fresh air, increasing mechanical ventilation using fans and ducts, and using outdoor space where possible. It’s important to identify poorly ventilated spaces that are usually occupied and improve fresh air flow in these areas. Read more about ventilation.

  • You can reduce droplet transmission by putting in place measures which reduce contact between people who do not normally mix. This could mean placing screens or barriers between people who will come into close proximity to each other, reducing the amount of time involved in customer-facing activities, or thinking about whether you can organise your teams or arrange your workplace in a different way. Read about reducing contact for workers and managing customers, crowds and events.

Surfaces and objects can be contaminated with COVID-19 when people who are infected cough or sneeze near them, or if they touch them.

  • You can reduce surface transmission by keeping your workplace clean (particularly surfaces that people touch regularly), providing hand sanitiser and encouraging good hygiene behaviours such as regular handwashing. Read more about cleaning and hygiene.

Your risk assessment should also include:

  • How you will reduce the risk of COVID-19 cases being brought in to your workplace by asking staff and customers who feel unwell not to attend. Remember that you must not require a worker who is legally required to self-isolate to work anywhere other than where they are self-isolating (normally their home) – this is the law. See more on reducing the risk of people with COVID-19 coming to your workplace and people who need to self-isolate.
  • What you will do if there is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 in your workplace. This should include an up-to-date plan for managing cases or outbreaks, with a member of staff as the single point of contact who will contact local public health teams. See more on COVID-19 cases in the workplace.
  • How you will manage the risks that could be caused by periods of closure. If your building is unoccupied or has reduced occupancy, you should take steps to manage any risks that could arise when reopening. Read HSE’s guidance on the risk of legionella.
  • The impact of your policies on groups who have protected characteristics, and to those who are more at risk of being infected with COVID-19 or have a higher risk of serious illness. See more on supporting your workers.
  • Managing risk in any unusual workplaces. This could include specialist construction or archaeological sites, where it can be necessary for people to work in close contact in enclosed spaces (such as excavation trenches and roof spaces). You should consider ways to modify the work area or working practices to mitigate risk, and may find relevant advice in the guidance for construction and outdoor work.
  • The security implications of any decisions and control measures you intend to put in place. Any revisions could present new or altered security risks you may need to mitigate.

Additional risk guidance for events

Identifying risks

The Events Research Programme identified the following risks associated with specific settings or events, though it is important to recognise that not all of these risks are associated with every venue or setting. You should consider taking additional steps to manage risk if the event site or venue includes one or more of the factors below.

The risk of COVID-19 transmission at any event will depend on several factors, including the prevalence of the virus at the time and the characteristics of the event and the event venue. The highest risks of transmission happen when multiple factors such as venue environment, attendee behaviours and travel to and from events are combined. For example, an indoor event with a large number of people mixing in close proximity for a prolonged period of time is likely to present a higher risk than fewer people outside for a shorter period.

  • Indoor events: Indoor events present a significantly higher risk of transmission than similar events taking place in outdoor spaces. Poor ventilation in indoor spaces increases the risk of transmission further. Ventilation is the process of introducing fresh or cleaned air into indoor spaces. The more fresh or cleaned air that is brought inside, the more diluted any airborne virus will become. In poorly ventilated spaces the amount of virus in the air can build up, and residual virus can remain in the air after an infected person has left, increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19.

  • Outdoor events (including those with indoor areas): Although outdoor events typically present fewer risks than indoor events, there may still be some indoor spaces within outdoor venues where risks are likely to be higher. This could include areas where people congregate at higher densities (such as concession stands, bars, turnstiles and toilets), in which ventilation may be poorer. These risks can be reduced through implementing such things as queuing systems and appropriate signage to avoid congestion (see ‘congested areas’ below for further details).

    Indoor settings such as private boxes and restaurants may still be occupied by some attendees for several hours during an event classified as ‘outdoors’. Ensuring that these spaces are sufficiently well-ventilated, and following the steps set out in the guidance for hospitality venues, can reduce transmission risk in these areas.

  • Congested areas: Some areas are more prone to potential congestion and crowding, including concession stands, bars, toilets, turnstiles, lifts, corridors, walkways, entry/exit points and ticket collection points. Congested areas or ‘pinch points’ will be present at all types of events (including outdoor events), and could potentially lead to an increased risk of transmission. Event organisers may want to consider additional risk management in these areas such as limiting the number of individuals who congregate for a longer duration, staggered entry and exit, or greater levels of ventilation in these zones.

  • Events with free movement between people: Events where there is significant close-mixing of people typically pose a higher risk, especially at those events where people will naturally tend to come together and mix for prolonged periods of time (for example, in front of a stage at a live performance, during a street event or on a dancefloor).

  • Crowd density: As crowds at an event become denser (particularly in relation to venue size and capacity), it becomes more difficult for people to be physically distant from each other, and close contact inevitably increases. The Events Research Programme found that increasing crowd density can have an impact on localised ventilation which may in turn result in an increased risk of transmission. Key areas of higher density were observed in queues, in hospitality areas, and when attendees were leaving the venue at the end of the event.

  • Large numbers of attendees: Events where large numbers of people attend do not necessarily constitute a greater risk than smaller events, (particularly if the event is outside or attendees are dispersed over a large area). However, end-to-end transmission risks are increased through large numbers of people travelling to and from venues and visiting nearby premises such as pubs, bars and restaurants. Early engagement between event organisers and local transport authorities to manage crowds near transport hubs and routes to and from the venue should be factored into the event planning process.

  • Events involving energetic activity: Observations from the Events Research Programme indicate that unstructured and energetic activity with a high crowd density may lead to higher airborne transmission risks. This could include activities such as actively chanting and celebrating while attending sporting events, singing along at gigs and concerts, or dancing/singing at a nightclub.

If you have identified that your event involves higher risks of transmission, you should take steps to manage this, by reducing the risk or mitigating its impact. Use the risk management template to identify risks and risk management options specific to your event or setting, and help you to plan your event.

Many large events will inherently involve multiple factors such as crowd density and free movement, but this guidance sets out ways you can mitigate these risks to ensure that they can take place as safely as possible. See managing customers, crowds and events for advice on specific measures. You can also read further guidance in the section on managing large events.

Managing your workforce

In this section:

Testing and vaccination

You should continue to put measures in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. This is important even if your workers have:

  • received a recent negative test result
  • had the vaccine (either 1 or 2 doses)
  • natural immunity. This is proof of a positive PCR within 180 days (and after the 10-day isolation period).

Consider asking your workers to get tested regularly. Regular testing could help to identify more positive cases of COVID-19, and reduce the risk of it spreading in your workplace.

  • Anyone with symptoms should get a free NHS test as soon as possible.
  • Employees who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 can access regular testing free of charge at home or at a test site. Read guidance on accessing tests if you do not have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • You can also pay an approved provider to provide tests or run a test site for your workplace. Read guidance on getting COVID-19 tests for your employees, and options for workplace testing, or call 119 for more information.
  • If COVID status checks are required (or you choose to apply them) for attendees at your venue or event, you are strongly advised to check that workers (aged 18 and over) in customer-facing roles are fully vaccinated, have tested negative in the past 48 hours, or are exempt from these requirements (for example, because they are participating in a clinical trial, or because they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons).
    • If you have workers (aged 18 and over) in customer-facing roles who are not fully vaccinated (or exempt), you may want to ask them to take regular lateral flow tests. Read the guidance on mandatory COVID status checks for more information on how to coordinate a test site, and how you should advise workers to take tests.

Use rapid lateral flow testing to help manage periods of high risk.

  • Workers may wish to take a rapid lateral flow test before periods of high risk. This will help to detect any cases of COVID-19 when people are infectious but are not displaying symptoms, and reduce the chances of the virus spreading in your workplace.
  • You can encourage workers to take tests. You can also provide tests to workers or offer to test them at your workplace test site, if you have one (see above for more information on workplace testing).
  • Periods of high risk include times when they are in crowded and enclosed areas, (where there are more people who might be infectious and there is limited fresh air), and before visiting people who are at higher risk of severe illness if they get COVID-19.
    • For example, you may want to encourage workers to take a test before and after they work at a crowded event.

Going to the workplace

The government is no longer asking people to work from home if they can.

You should now talk to your employees to agree arrangements to return to the workplace, consulting with workers and trade unions where appropriate. You should remain responsive to workers’ needs and consult with them on any health and safety measures you have put in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading, giving extra consideration to people at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and to workers facing mental and physical health difficulties.

When considering working arrangements, employers should take into account their other existing legal obligations.

When considering workers’ return to their place of work, you should:

  • reflect this in your risk assessment.
  • take action to manage the risks of transmission in line with this guidance.

People who need to self-isolate

Workers who are required to self-isolate should not come to the workplace. This includes people who:

  • have tested positive for COVID-19
  • have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace

Workers who receive a positive COVID-19 test result (through a PCR or rapid lateral flow test) must complete their full self-isolation period. They must also self-isolate if they are informed by NHS Test and Trace that they are a contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, unless they are exempt from this requirement (for example, because they are fully vaccinated). Read more about who needs to self-isolate.

Read the guidance on NHS Test and Trace in the workplace for more information.

It is against the law for you to allow someone to come to work if you know they are required to self-isolate.

What you should do

Make sure your workers are aware of what to do if they have symptoms of COVID-19.

  • People who have COVID-19 symptoms (a high temperature, a new and persistent cough, or a loss of/change to their sense of taste or smell) should not come to the workplace. If any of your workers have COVID-19 symptoms, they should self-isolate immediately and get a PCR test, even if these symptoms are mild.
  • If someone has symptoms or tests positive at your workplace, follow the steps in COVID-19 cases in your workplace.

Do not ask or encourage someone who is required to self-isolate to come to the workplace.

  • If you know that a worker is required to self-isolate, you must not allow them to come into work or work anywhere other than where they are self-isolating (usually their home) for their full self-isolation period. This is the law, and you can be fined if you break it.
  • Read the guidance on NHS Test and Trace in the workplace for advice on what to do if you or someone you employ is required to self-isolate. This includes being contacted by NHS Test and Trace, self-isolation rules and financial support.
  • Workers who are unable to work because they have COVID-19 or need to self-isolate may be entitled to statutory sick pay.

Encourage staff members who are unwell with other illnesses to stay at home.

  • If staff members feel unwell but do not have COVID-19 symptoms (or their test is negative), staying at home until they feel better could reduce the risk of passing on an illness to colleagues.
  • Read more information on staying at home if you feel unwell.

Who needs to self-isolate?

People who are legally required to self-isolate must follow the guidance on self-isolation, even if they have no symptoms and/or are fully vaccinated.

It is against the law for you to knowingly allow someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.

People are required to self-isolate if they:

  • have tested positive for COVID-19 
  • have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace

They are required to self-isolate for 10 full days from the day their symptoms started, or from the day their test was taken if they do not have symptoms (day 0). However, it could be longer in some circumstances (for example, if they develop symptoms during their self-isolation). NHS Test and Trace will tell them when they can stop self-isolating. Read more about how to self-isolate and how NHS Test and Trace works.

People can stop self-isolating earlier (from day 6) if they have 2 negative results on rapid lateral flow tests taken on consecutive days. The first rapid lateral flow test should not be taken before day 5 of their self-isolation period. They should only end their self-isolation after they have had 2 negative results to tests taken on consecutive days. They can stop testing after they have had 2 consecutive negative test results.

The self-isolation period remains 10 full days for those without negative results from two consecutive rapid lateral flow tests taken a day apart. This is the law, regardless of whether you have been vaccinated.

People who are identified as a contact

NHS Test and Trace may tell people to self-isolate if they are in contact with someone who tests positive. A contact is someone they live with, or have been close to (for example, face-to-face interactions, or spending time within a certain distance of them). Read about what is meant by a contact.

NHS Test and Trace will decide whether someone is a contact based on the information they are given by the person who tests positive. People identified as a contact are required to self-isolate, unless they are fully vaccinated, or are exempt from this requirement for another reason (such as their age).

People who are fully vaccinated or exempt:

  • People who are fully vaccinated are not required to self-isolate if they are identified as a contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19. People are also exempt from this requirement if they are aged under 18 and 6 months, are part of an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial, or are unable to get vaccinated for medical reasons. Read more about exemptions and who qualifies as fully vaccinated. However, they are strongly advised to take a rapid lateral flow test every day for 7 days (or until 10 days have passed since their last contact with the person who tested positive, if this is earlier). Where possible, they should take this daily lateral flow test before they leave their home for the first time that day.
  • They may also be advised to consider taking precautions until 10 days after their most recent contact with the positive case, such as limiting close contact with people outside their household (especially in enclosed areas).
  • If any of the lateral flow tests are positive, they should report their result and self-isolate. They do not need to take a PCR test to confirm the result.

People who are not fully vaccinated or exempt:

  • People who are not fully vaccinated or exempt are legally required to self-isolate if they are a contact of a positive case of COVID-19. They will be informed of this by NHS Test and Trace.
  • They must self-isolate for the full isolation period, even if they have one or more negative tests during this time.

Find out more about when to self-isolate.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the workplace

Ensure that you have an up-to-date plan setting out the steps to take if a case of COVID-19 is reported in your facility or event.

This should be set out in your risk register, and should include the following factors.

Take steps to ensure that people who have symptoms or who are self-isolating do not attend your facility or event.

  • Ensure you and your staff are familiar with the symptoms of COVID-19 (a high temperature, a new and persistent cough, or a loss of/change to their sense of taste or smell).
  • Ensure that workers are aware that they should not come to the workplace if they have symptoms or need to self-isolate. Read more on who needs to self-isolate.
  • Take steps to ensure that customers who have symptoms or who need to self-isolate do not attend your facility. Read more on communicating with customers.

What you will do if COVID-19 symptoms are reported.

  • If a staff member has COVID-19 symptoms, they should self-isolate and get a test, even if these symptoms are mild. People with COVID-19 symptoms can get a free NHS test.
  • You should immediately identify any close workplace contacts and ask them to self-isolate and take a test. You should not wait for NHS Test and Trace to contact them. This prompt action will help reduce the risk of a workplace outbreak.
  • If you become aware that a customer has suspected or confirmed COVID-19, follow the advice on people with COVID-19 coming to your workplace.

Register the cases with public health and self-isolation teams.

  • Inform your local authority’s public health team if you have confirmed cases of COVID-19 in your workplace. The local authority public health team will give you information about any actions you should take.
  • You should also call the Self-Isolation Service Hub (020 3743 6715) to register the case. See the box below for advice on contacting the Self-Isolation Service Hub and what you will need to tell them. 
  • Where possible, nominate one member of staff to contact public health teams. Having one person as the ‘single point of contact’ can help you to make sure you have the information you need, and that public health teams know who to contact.
  • In some circumstances the local authority public health team might declare an ‘outbreak’. This is when there are 2 or more cases and it’s possible they may have been spread at your workplace.
  • If an outbreak is declared:
    • You will be asked to record details of staff with symptoms of COVID-19 and assist with identifying contacts. You should therefore ensure that all employment records are up to date.
    • You will be provided with information about the outbreak management process. This will help you to implement control measures, assist with communications to staff and reinforce prevention messages.

Ensure your facility is thoroughly cleaned.

Think about using rapid lateral flow testing to help manage periods of risk.

  • Workers who are not close contacts may also want to take tests to check if they have been exposed to the virus.
  • You can encourage workers to take tests. You can also provide tests to workers or offer to test them at your workplace test site, if you have one. Read more about COVID-19 tests.

Call the Self-Isolation Service Hub to report COVID-19 cases in your workplace.

If one of your workers tests positive, you can call the Self-Isolation Service Hub on 020 3743 6715 to register the case.

You will need to provide:

  • the 8-digit NHS Test and Trace Account ID (sometimes referred to as a CTAS number) of the person who tested positive. If they do not already know this, ask them to provide this when they have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
  • the names of any other workers you have identified as close contacts.

This will ensure that all workplace contacts are registered with NHS Test and Trace and can receive health advice and support to help them to self-isolate if required.

Your workers may already have been in contact with NHS Test and Trace, but may not be able to provide all the details they need. For example, they may not be able to identify or provide details of other workers they were in contact with (such as temporary workers, contractors or staff working irregular shift patterns), or know how to reach colleagues who may be required to isolate.

How to identify whether workers are close contacts of a positive case

A close contact is a person who has been close to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Read guidance on contacts of people who have tested positive.

Identify the times when they could have passed the virus on to other workers.

  • Ask the worker who tested positive when they developed symptoms.
  • The times they could have passed on the virus start from 2 days before this and until 10 days afterwards.

Identify who has been in close contact with the worker who tested positive.

  • You can do a risk assessment, or ask other workers if they have been in contact with the person who tested positive during this time.
  • A contact can be someone who lives with the worker who tested positive, travelled in the same vehicle or plane as the worker who tested positive, or had the following kind of contact with them:
    • face-to-face contact including being coughed on
    • a face-to-face conversation within one metre
    • been within one metre for one minute or longer without face-to-face contact
    • been within 2 metres of them for more than 15 minutes (either as a one-off contact, or added up together over one day)

They should be registered as a contact if they have been in these situations anytime from 2 days before the person who tested positive developed their symptoms, and up to 10 days after.

If your workers use the NHS COVID-19 app, this may also help them to understand if they are close contacts. More information and resources on the NHS COVID-19 app.

Reducing contact for workers

There are no government requirements or recommendations for employers to limit capacity in the workplace, or on contact between people from different households.

If, based on setting-specific risk assessments, employers decide to reduce contact in particular circumstances, they may want to consider the following mitigations:

  • Designating seating (for example in offices) for specific teams, or using fixed teams, partnering or cohorting, so each person works with the same consistent person or group.
  • Where space and capacity allow, giving preference to back-to-back or side-to-side working between cohorts or fixed teams who don’t normally mix.
  • Using screens or barriers to separate people who don’t normally mix (for example between workers and customers).
    • Screens are only likely to be beneficial if placed between people who come into close face-to-face proximity with each other, and may not be practical between desks in a side-to-side office setting.
    • Screens may be helpful for staff who work with large numbers of guests, for example at a ticket office or box office.
  • Keeping customer-facing activity as short as possible, particularly for staff who work with large numbers of guests.

You should consider the need for these mitigations in the context of other COVID-19 workplace measures (such as ventilation and regular cleaning of surfaces) you have put in place. They should only be applied where it is practical. For example, where they could be used without imposing restrictions on business operations or reducing workplace capacity.

Supporting and communicating with workers

When applying this guidance, be mindful of the particular needs of different groups of workers or individuals. Consider the impact of your policies on your workers.

It’s against the law to discriminate against anyone because of their age, sex, disability, race or other ‘protected characteristic’. Read the government guidance on discrimination.

As an employer, you have particular responsibilities towards disabled customers, disabled workers and workers who are pregnant or are new mothers. See the COVID-19 advice for pregnant employees. You might also have other workers who are at higher risk and for whom additional precautions advised by their clinicians should be considered. Read HSE guidance on protecting vulnerable workers.

What you should do

  • Provide clear, consistent and regular communication to workers of any relevant safety measures or changes to policy/procedure. Engage with workers and worker representatives to explain and agree any changes in working arrangements.
  • Involve and communicate appropriately with workers whose protected characteristics might either expose them to a different degree of risk, or might make any steps you are thinking about inappropriate or challenging for them.
  • Discuss with disabled workers what reasonable adjustments can be made to the workplace so they can work safely, and to avoid them being put at a disadvantage.
  • Assess the health and safety risks for new or expectant mothers.
  • Consider how any safety measures you put in place will affect staff with protected characteristics, and any adjustments you should make to take account of your duties under the equalities legislation.
  • Make sure that the steps you take do not have an unjustifiable negative impact on some groups compared to others, for example, those with caring responsibilities or those with religious commitments.
  • Give extra consideration to people who are at greater risk of infection or more likely to get seriously ill if they catch COVID-19. You should continue to support these workers by discussing with them their individual needs and supporting them in taking any additional precautions advised by their clinicians.    
  • Give extra consideration to workers facing mental and physical health difficulties. Consider providing support for workers around mental health and wellbeing. This could include advice or telephone support.
  • You may also wish to refer to any relevant guidance produced by your sector, such as the 7 Inclusive Principles for Arts & Cultural Organisations.

Reducing risk to customers

In this section:

Communicating with customers

It’s important to make sure your staff and customers understand what they should do to prevent spreading COVID-19 at your venue or event. Make sure you tell them any important information about safety measures before they book tickets or arrive.

Make sure customers are aware of the need to wear face coverings, where this is required.

  • If people are legally required to wear face coverings in your venue (or in some areas), you are legally required to put up signs or posters or take other steps to make sure they are aware of this requirement.
  • Where possible, you should remind customers that they must wear face coverings when travelling on public transport (including taxis and private hire vehicles), and in public transport hubs (such as rail or bus stations) unless they are exempt. This is particularly important for large events, and if your venue has direct entrances or exits into transport hubs.
  • Read more about face coverings.

Make sure customers know how to visit your facility safely.

  • Consider how you can inform visitors of any changes to processes in advance of their visit, for example on your website, when booking by phone or email, and in your digital marketing.
  • Ensure you make any requirements clear to customers before booking, and at the point of sale.
    • If your venue or event requires COVID status checks, make sure customers are informed that they will need to show proof (such as their NHS COVID Pass) that they are fully vaccinated, have tested negative for COVID-19 in the previous 48 hours, or are exempt from these requirements, in order to enter your venue or event.
    • If this is likely to mean a longer wait to enter the venue, you could advise customers to arrive earlier. See reducing the risk of COVID-19 spreading in your workplace) for more information.
  • Take steps to remind visitors of special measures if they are complex, varied or likely to be forgotten. For example, you could reinforce messages on signs through spoken communication from a greeter, or other staff such as ushers or curators.
  • Think about how to communicate important information to all of your customers, for example those who do not speak English as a first language, and those with protected characteristics (such as people who are hard of hearing or visually impaired).
  • Encourage customers to follow good hygiene practices, such as using hand sanitiser when they enter the building and washing their hands regularly. Consider how to ensure safety messages reach those with hearing or vision impairments.
  • Pre-event communications can be a particularly effective measure for events. You can find further advice about communications in the section on event communications

Reduce the risk of people with COVID-19 coming to your workplace

Protect your workers and customers by reducing the risk that someone with COVID-19 will come to your facility. Make sure staff and customers know they should not come if they have (or may have) COVID-19, or they need to self-isolate.

What you should do

Ask people not visit your business or come to the workplace if:

  • they need to self isolate, for example because they’ve been told to by NHS Test & Trace
  • they or anyone they live with have any COVID-19 symptoms (a high temperature, new and persistent cough, or a loss or change in taste or smell), even if their symptoms are mild

Do not admit customers who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

  • If a customer, guest or visitor arrives at your facility or event with symptoms, they should not be admitted.
  • If you become aware of a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 on-site, the customer should be asked to leave the facility or event, unless they need to be transported to hospital for treatment.
  • The customer should be advised to follow the guidance on testing and self-isolation.
  • In some facilities or events, it may be possible to assess the customer on-site.
    • The customer should be assessed as soon as possible (by a medical professional, if you have this provision).
    • Unless they are in need of urgent medical attention and need to be transported to hospital for treatment, they should be encouraged to take a supervised lateral flow test.
    • Any customer returning a positive result from a lateral flow test must be required to leave the facility or event. They should be advised to follow the guidance on testing and self-isolation.

Do not rely on temperature screening or disinfectants as a risk mitigation.

Reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading in your workplace.

You should take steps to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading at your venue or event.

You can use the NHS COVID Pass (and other equivalent forms of evidence) to check people’s COVID status before they enter your venue or event.

This will:

- reduce the likelihood of an infectious person entering your venue or event,
- reduce the risk of other visitors becoming infected if an infectious person does enter, and
- reduce the risk of serious illness if transmission does occur.

You should also display an NHS QR code so people can check in at your venue. This will help NHS Test and Trace to reduce the spread of the virus.

Some venues and events are legally required to check customers’ COVID status as a condition of entry.

If this applies to your venue or event, you are required by law to check that all attendees (aged 18 and over) are fully vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID-19 in the last 48 hours (or are exempt from these requirements). You are also strongly advised to check that workers (aged 18 and over) in customer-facing roles meet these requirements.

Read the section on COVID status checks and the guidance on mandatory COVID status checks for more information on whether this applies to your venue or event, and what you need to do.

This section gives a brief overview of the key information on COVID status checks, but there is more detailed guidance and advice in the following sections:

What you should do

Check if you need to do mandatory COVID status checks for people using some areas of your facility, or attending events in your facility.

  • In some venues and events, you are legally required to check the COVID status of all attendees aged 18 and over.
    • For some venues (such as nightclubs and other late night dance venues) this will apply to their normal operations.
    • For other types of venue, whether COVID status checks are required will depend on the type of event you are holding and the number of people who are attending.
    • Read the section on when COVID status checks are required to check if this applies to your venue or events, and find out what you need to do.
  • If COVID status checks are not legally required at your venue or event, you can choose to ask customers or workers for proof of their COVID status, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading at your venue or event.
    • You should not use COVID status checks if your venue or event includes essential services such as hospitals or pharmacies and essential retailers such as supermarkets.
    • COVID status checks should not be required in public transport hubs and services. However this does not apply to leisure transport, such as an event on a privately operated or hired boat. Operators and organisers of events on leisure transport services should read the section on when COVID status checks are required to check if this applies to their event.
    • Read the section on how to check people’s COVID status at your venue or event for more information on the factors you will need to consider, and how you should communicate this to your workers and customers.

If you are required to (or choose to) check people’s COVID status at your venue or event, think about how to manage this at your venue or event.

  • You are legally required to check the COVID status of all attendees aged 18 and over. You can only admit customers who provide valid evidence (for example, using the NHS COVID Pass) that they:
    • are fully vaccinated,
    • have tested negative for COVID-19 in the previous 48 hours, or
    • are exempt from these requirements (for example because they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, or because they have a medical condition which means they cannot take a test).
  • You are also strongly advised to check the COVID status of workers (employees, other workers including contractors and volunteers, and people providing services) aged 18 and over in customer-facing roles.
  • You can check people’s COVID status using their NHS COVID Pass (which will show whether they are vaccinated or exempt, and registered test results).
    • People can also show other forms of evidence, such as a valid text or email from NHS Test and Trace confirming their negative COVID-19 test result, or an accepted international vaccination certificate (such as the EU Digital COVID certificate).
  • Where possible, you should always check for proof of COVID status through use of the free NHS COVID Pass Verifier App, as this is the most secure way to check people’s COVID status and reduces the possibility of fraud. If you do not use the NHS COVID Pass Verifier App, you can manually check that each attendee’s NHS COVID Pass (or other forms of evidence they provide) are valid.
  • Read the section on how to check people’s COVID status for more information.

You should also consider displaying an NHS QR code so that customers can check in using the NHS COVID-19 app.

  • You can choose to display an NHS QR code so that customers can check in using the NHS COVID-19 app.
    • You are not required to display an NHS QR code, to collect customer contact details, or keep a record of your staff and visitors.
    • However, allowing customers to check in using the NHS COVID-19 app will help NHS Test and Trace to reduce the spread of the virus.
  • If you choose to display an NHS QR code, you do not have to ask customers to check in, or turn them away if they refuse. However, you should also have a system to collect (and securely store) names and contact details, for those who ask to check in but who do not have access to a smartphone or who prefer not to use the app. Read about how to keep records for NHS Test and Trace.

Managing customers, crowds and events

Think about how you can reduce risks to customers, for example by reducing unnecessary contact. If your venue gets very busy, or you have a lot of customers at the same time, you should think about ways to reduce the risk of crowding. The risk of catching or passing on COVID-19 is higher in crowded places, especially if they are indoors.

The types of measures which are appropriate will depend on your venue and the type of activities your business does, so you should think about the most appropriate steps you could take to manage risk.

What you should do

Check if you need to do mandatory COVID status checks for people using some areas of your facility or attending your event.

  • If this does not apply to your facility, you may also want to consider checking people’s COVID status on a voluntary basis, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading at your facility or event.
  • Read the section on COVID status checks for more detail on when this will apply and what you need to do.

Consider how best to reduce risks to customers.

  • Minimise unnecessary contact. You could do this by using online booking and pre-payment, and encouraging contactless payments wherever possible.
  • Ensure that any measures you put in place are suitable for your facility or any events you hold. For example, if you are hosting business events and conferences, you could consider providing (or recommending the purchase of) name tags and a badge holder for business cards, to avoid the exchange of business cards.

Think about what is right for your venue.

  • This may mean using a combination of different measures in different areas of your venue, or at different times. For example, thinking about how to manage queues outside the venue and around food and drink stalls, and using stewards and assigned seating to reduce crowding inside the performance area.
  • There will be additional factors to consider if you are operating a large or complex event, such as a conference, street event or festival. You can find additional information in the section on event planning, including advice on managing large events.
  • There will also be additional factors to consider if your facility is (or you are holding events in) a venue with specific requirements, such as a historic building like a stately home or castle. For example, if you are holding events in a historic building like a stately home or castle, make sure your safety measures don’t damage the building. Read the section on heritage locations for advice on safety measures in heritage locations (including consent and planning permission). You can also read Heritage England’s guidance on reopening a heritage location.

Think about how you can reduce congestion in your venue.

  • Use your risk register to identify any places in your venue which can get crowded, and think about ways to reduce this. For example, using one-way systems to avoid people being held up at doorways.
  • Think about how you can reduce the need for people to stand in queues.
    • Encouraging people to book tickets in advance can help to reduce queues at box offices and ticket collection points. You can also stagger arrival and leaving times to reduce queues at lifts and stairwells.
  • If bars, concession stands and toilet facilities get crowded, think about whether you can provide more facilities, or arrange them differently (for example, using one-way systems).
    • Think about whether you can make changes to food and drink service to avoid crowding, for example by making sure people take food and drink to a separate seating area or serving people more quickly (e.g. by using more staff at busy times).

Manage your guests to reduce crowding.

  • Think about how audiences arrive and leave. If you have a lot of people arriving or leaving at the same time, using multiple entrances and exits or one-way systems can help to reduce crowding.
    • Large events may want to take extra steps (such as using stewards or dividing the audience into different zones). Read the section on managing large events for advice on ways to manage large crowds.
  • If you have auditoriums and theatre-style seating, you can reduce the risk of crowding by providing allocated seating, where possible.
    • If you provide allocated seating, make sure your seating plan takes into account the needs of wheelchair users and people with disabilities (and their carers). If you offer any other accessibility services (such as captioning or audio description), make sure people who need them are in seats with access to these services.
    • Where allocated seating is not possible, think about other ways to reduce crowds building up. For example, you could use extra stewards to help direct people to their seats.

Think about the risk of crowds in enclosed or poorly ventilated areas.

  • The risk of COVID-19 transmission in a crowded area will be higher if it is enclosed or has limited ventilation.
  • Think about how you can reduce the risk by improving the ventilation (find out more about ventilation) or limit the number of people using the room or area to avoid overcrowding.
  • You could ask people to arrive at different times or use tickets for certain time periods to manage the number of people attending. You could also put a capacity limit on your venue or certain areas or rooms, to make sure they do not get overcrowded. For example:
    • If your venue has a shared lounge or recreation room which is indoors and hasn’t got very good ventilation, you could put a capacity limit on the room. If it is very popular, you could put time limits on people using it, or ask customers to book in when they are likely to use it.
    • If your venue is a historic building, there may be areas which make it difficult to reduce the risk of transmission if they are crowded (e.g. areas with small rooms, narrow staircases and not many entrances and exits). You could stagger arrival times or set a capacity limit and count people in and out, to make sure customers can see the area safely without the risk of overcrowding.
  • You may also want to recommend that people wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed settings where they come into contact with people they do not normally meet, if this is not already required.

Take extra care with large events and very crowded venues.

  • If you are holding large events or your venue often becomes very crowded, you should take additional steps to manage guests and reduce the risk of crowding.
  • Research has found that there are some factors which increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission at events. This includes events which are indoors (or have indoor areas), have a large number of attendees, include people moving around during the event (rather than sitting in one place), and are likely to include crowding or congested areas in the venue.
  • If your event or venue has one or more of these risk factors, you should take extra care to reduce the risk of transmission. Read the section on managing large events for advice on ways to manage large crowds, such as stewarding, zoning and timed ticketing.
  • You may also want to consider checking people’s COVID status on a voluntary basis (if this is not already required), to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading at your facility or event. Read the section on COVID status checks for more detail on when this will apply and what you need to do.

Managing your facility

In this section:

Cleaning

Keeping your workplace clean will help to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Surfaces and objects can be contaminated with COVID-19 when people who are infected touch them or cough or sneeze near them.

Think about how you can reduce this risk by cleaning your workplace regularly, and paying particular attention to surfaces or objects that people touch frequently.

What you should do

Review your cleaning schedule.

  • Make sure you are regularly cleaning all areas of your facility with your usual cleaning products.
  • Make a checklist of priority areas (such as bathrooms, door handles and surfaces) to be cleaned when guests vacate.

Clean some areas more frequently. You should consider:

  • Surfaces that people touch regularly, like door handles, lift buttons and handrails.
  • Shared equipment and objects, such as microphones used by speakers at events - clean them between users where this is practical.
  • Places that are used frequently, like reception areas.
  • Areas used by multiple groups of guests, like lounges,common areas and shared recreation rooms.
  • Toilet and bathroom facilities - set clear guidance for staff and customers on using and cleaning bathroom facilities. Make sure that surfaces like taps, hand-dryers and door handles are regularly cleaned. Put up a cleaning schedule that staff and guests can see, and keep it updated. Make sure that higher-risk facilities like portable toilets, large toilet blocks and shared guest bathrooms are thoroughly cleaned.

Large venues and events should take extra care. Think about whether you should:

  • Clean the venue thoroughly, before and after the event.
  • Clean surfaces touched regularly (such as door handles and handrails) during the event, particularly if you expect a large number of guests.
  • Where possible, organise your event so that audience areas (such as meeting rooms and seating in auditoriums) are cleaned between use by different customers. For example, cleaning seating areas between theatre performances or elite sport competitions.
  • Reduce the need for crowding in or around toilet facilities. If there are crowded areas, you could try implementing one-way systems
  • Provide additional waste facilities, including closed bins, and ensure rubbish is collected frequently.

If you are cleaning after a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19, follow the guidance on cleaning and decontamination. You may need to provide cleaners with protective equipment (such as a face mask or visor) to protect their eyes, mouth and nose, when cleaning areas where there is a greater risk of exposure to the virus. Read about additional protective equipment and PPE.

Guidance for heritage locations:

  • Ensure cleaning materials and schedules are appropriate for historic surfaces and materials. Some historic surfaces are vulnerable to damage through inappropriate cleaning, for example with strong chemicals (such as concentrated bleach).
  • Consider the most effective ways of regularly cleaning sensitive historic surfaces in high-traffic areas (such as entrances / stairways, and offices in listed buildings) or touchpoints (such as handrails and surfaces) without causing lasting damage to them.
  • Consider alternative approaches where increased frequency or intensity of cleaning would be damaging to a surface or material. For example, placing temporary covers over sensitive surfaces before cleaning other areas, or leaving areas empty for appropriate periods between visits.
  • Review specialist advice. You should review Historic England’s guidance on cleaning and disinfecting historic surfaces, which has been prepared in line with guidance published by the government, or consult specialists for advice on particularly sensitive historic materials.

Hygiene

One of the most effective ways for people to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading is washing their hands regularly. Think about how you can promote good hygiene in your workplace, and make sure your messages reach people who have difficulty with their sight or hearing.

What you should do

Provide handwashing facilities or hand sanitiser for staff and customers. This could mean that you:

  • Provide hand sanitiser near shared facilities, equipment and objects, like reception desks and touch-screen devices.
  • Hand sanitiser stations can be helpful in busy areas like entrance foyers, doorways, lifts and bathroom facilities. If you have a large venue or event site, think about placing them at the entrances of different buildings or areas. For example, at the entrance and exit of theme park attractions and rides.
  • Consider the needs of people with disabilities. Make sure that hand sanitiser stations can be reached by people in wheelchairs and don’t block access or fire exits.
  • Check handwashing and hand sanitiser facilities regularly and make sure they are cleaned and refilled.

Use signs and posters to promote good hygiene, making people aware:

  • How to wash their hands effectively.
  • That they should wash their hands frequently.
  • That they should avoid touching their faces or face coverings.
  • That they should cough or sneeze into a tissue which is binned safely, or into their arm if a tissue is not available.

Provide additional guidance for staff on hygiene and safety. This could mean that you:

  • Provide regular reminders to staff (for example, in break rooms and bathrooms) to wash or sanitise their hands, particularly after contact with guests.
  • Make sure cleaners and housekeeping staff have time and facilities to wash their hands after cleaning rooms and items that guests have touched.
  • This is particularly important after cases of suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Read the guidance on cleaning after a case of COVID-19 for more information.

Ventilation

Ventilation plays an important role in reducing the risk of aerosol (airborne) transmission of COVID-19. Use your risk assessment to think about:

  • How to make sure there is an adequate supply of fresh air in your workplace. This is particularly important for indoor spaces where there are people present. Read about improving ventilation.
  • Finding out if there are areas of your workplace which don’t have enough ventilation, and how you can improve fresh air flow in these areas. Read about poorly ventilated spaces.

Improving ventilation

Good ventilation brings fresh air into indoor spaces. The more fresh air that is brought inside, the more it will dilute any virus particles in the air. In spaces which don’t have enough ventilation, virus particles can remain in the air after an infected person has left and increase the risk of COVID-19 spreading.

Watch a video from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which explains how ventilation reduces the risk of transmission.

Make sure there is an adequate supply of fresh air in your workplace. This can be natural ventilation (opening windows, doors and vents), mechanical ventilation (fans and ducts), or a combination of both. It’s particularly important to keep toilets and showers well-ventilated, as these can be areas of higher risk.

How to improve natural ventilation

  • Open doors, windows and air vents where possible.
  • Opening doors and windows even for a brief period can help to refresh the air and reduce COVID-19 particles.
  • Opening the windows and doors fully will let the most fresh air into the space.
  • Encourage people to use outside space where it’s practical, especially for higher-risk activities such as exercise, or when people are singing or raising their voices.

How to improve mechanical ventilation

  • Make sure that your systems are set to maximise fresh air and minimise air recirculation.
  • It’s not advised to recirculate air from one space to another. Systems which recirculate air from one space to another are likely to increase the risk of transmission.
  • Recirculation units that do not bring in fresh air can remain in operation as long as there is an alternative supply of fresh air.

Heritage locations should take care to increase ventilation in a way which does not endanger historic items. Doors and windows can be propped open if they do not cause an environmental, collection, safety, fire or security risk.

Ventilation and workplace temperature

Providing adequate ventilation does not mean people have to work in an uncomfortably cold workplace.

There are steps you can take to make sure your workplace is adequately ventilated without being too cold, such as partially opening windows and doors and opening higher-level windows.

Read HSE advice on balancing ventilation with keeping warm.

Identify and manage poorly ventilated spaces

It’s important to find out if there are poorly ventilated areas of your workplace that are usually occupied by people (workers or customers), so you can increase the flow of fresh air.

How to identify poorly ventilated spaces

  • Look for areas where people are usually present for an extended period of time, and where there is no mechanical ventilation and no natural ventilation (such as open windows, vents or doors).
  • Use a carbon dioxide (CO2) monitor to measure the level of ventilation (see below for more information). In an an area or room people are using, an average CO2 concentration of above 1500ppm indicates that it is poorly ventilated.
  • You should take action to improve ventilation where CO2 readings are consistently higher than 1500ppm.

Consider factors which may increase the risk

  • In a poorly ventilated space, the risk of COVID-19 transmission will increase where there are more virus particles being released into the air.
  • When identifying poorly ventilated spaces, you should pay particular attention to areas of high occupancy (which are used by a larger number of people) and which are used for extended periods of time, as these factors will increase the risk of transmission.
  • You should also consider how the space is used. Some activities can increase the risk of catching or passing on COVID-19. This happens where people are doing activities which generate more particles as they breathe heavily, such as singing, dancing, exercising or raising their voices.
  • Where there is continuous talking or singing, or high levels of physical activity (such as dancing, playing sport or exercise), providing ventilation sufficient to keep CO2 levels below 800ppm is recommended.

What you should do

If your risk assessment shows that there are poorly ventilated areas in your workplace, it’s important that you improve the ventilation to reduce the risk of COVID-19 being spread in these areas.

Follow the steps above to improve ventilation by opening doors, windows and vents, if possible, and by ensuring that any mechanical ventilation system is set to maximise fresh air and minimise air recirculation.

If these options are not available or do not provide sufficient ventilation (for example, if CO2 readings remain above recommended levels, or the room continues to feel stuffy), you can think about other ways to reduce the risk in these spaces.

Think about changing the way these spaces are used. For example, you could:

  • Restrict the number of people who can use the space at the same time.
  • Restrict the length of time people spend in the space.
  • Move activities which involve exercising, dancing or raising voices (singing, shouting or talking loudly) to an area with better ventilation.

Think about ways to increase mechanical ventilation.

  • Ask a ventilation engineer to check the performance of your mechanical ventilation system, especially if it hasn’t been serviced recently.
  • Install a mechanical ventilation system, if you don’t have mechanical ventilation or if the existing system does not provide fresh air.
  • Install an air cleaning or filtration unit. Air cleaning or filtration is not a substitute for good ventilation. But where poor ventilation cannot be improved in other ways, a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter or ultraviolet air purifier could help to reduce the number of COVID-19 particles in the air. Read HSE’s advice on air cleaning and filtration devices.

Using carbon dioxide (CO2) monitors to identify poorly ventilated spaces

Using Carbon Dioxide (CO2) monitors
People exhale carbon dioxide (CO2) when they breathe out. If there is a build-up of CO2 in an area it can indicate that ventilation needs improving.

Although CO2 levels are not a direct measure of possible exposure to COVID-19, checking levels using a monitor can help you identify poorly ventilated areas. Read HSE advice on how to use a CO2 monitor.

How the measurements can help you take action
CO2 measurements should be used as a broad guide to ventilation rather than treating them as safe thresholds.

Outdoor levels are around 400ppm (parts per million of carbon dioxide). Indoors, a consistent CO2 value less than 800ppm is likely to indicate that a space is well-ventilated.

A CO2 concentration of above 1500ppm when a room is occupied is an indicator of poor ventilation. You should take action to improve ventilation where CO2 readings are consistently higher than 1500ppm.

Where there is continuous talking or singing, or high levels of physical activity (such as dancing, playing sport or exercising), providing ventilation sufficient to keep CO2 levels below 800ppm is recommended.

Where CO2 monitors can help
CO2 monitors can be used to check ventilation in a wide range of settings.

In large areas such as concert halls or event spaces, multiple sensors may be required to provide meaningful information.

There are some spaces where CO2 monitors are less likely to provide useful readings. These are:

  • Areas occupied by people for short periods or for varying amounts of time. For example, a railway station or an atrium.
  • Areas where air cleaning units are in use. Filtration can remove contaminants (such as COVID-19) from the air but will not remove CO2.
  • Spaces like changing rooms, toilets or small meeting rooms.
  • Spaces used by low numbers of people.
  • Areas where CO2 is produced as part of a work process.

Read HSE advice on the suitability of CO2 monitoring in different types of space. Where CO2 monitors cannot be used, you should still identify poorly ventilated spaces and provide adequate ventilation.

Face coverings

COVID-19 is transmitted when an infected person breathes out droplets and aerosols. They can spread through the air and onto surfaces (and people’s hands and belongings) to infect others. Face coverings can help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by reducing the spread of droplets and aerosols. People should wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed settings where they come into contact with people they do not normally meet. Where worn correctly, this can reduce the risk of transmission.

Face coverings are legally required in most indoor public places and indoor areas of public transport. In these places, staff and customers must wear a face covering in the required areas, unless they are exempt or have a reasonable excuse to remove their face covering (for example, to take medication). Read detailed advice about how the rules on face coverings apply to different types of events and visitor attractions, and where customers and staff need to wear them.

You are also legally required to make sure people are aware that they must wear face coverings in these areas. It is illegal to prevent people (including workers) from wearing a face covering in the areas where it is required. It is also illegal to prevent people from wearing face coverings in hospitality venues (such as nightclubs, restaurants, and cafes) and some other venues where face coverings are not required (such as photography studios, and in gyms and other exercise facilities).

If this does not apply to your venue or event (or to some areas of your venue or event), you can choose to ask workers and customers to wear face coverings, unless they are unable to wear one for a reason like their age, health or a disability. If you want to do this, you need to make sure you comply with equality law, employment law, and health and safety legislation.

Read the face coverings guidance for more information.

What you should do

In areas and venues where face coverings are required:

- Customers are required to wear face coverings (unless they are exempt) in indoor areas.
- Staff are required to wear face coverings (unless they are exempt) in indoor areas open to the public and where they are likely to come into contact with members of the public.
- You must make sure people are aware that they are required to wear face coverings in these areas (unless they are exempt), for example by displaying signs or taking other measures. Download and print a poster to display.
- You must not prevent staff or customers from wearing face coverings.

This is the law, and you can be fined if you break it.

Check whether face coverings are required in areas of your facility.

  • Check the information below on where face coverings must be worn, and read the face coverings guidance for more information.
  • Make sure you and your staff are familiar with the rules on face coverings and where they should be worn by staff and customers.
  • Remember that you must not ask guests or workers to remove a face covering in an area where it is legally required (and in some other types of facilities such as hospitality venues, photography studios, gyms and other exercise facilities). It is illegal for you to do this.
    • You can ask a customer to remove their face covering where it is necessary to verify the person’s identity (for example, to check if they are the ticket holder or are old enough to purchase alcohol).
  • Remember that people may also choose to wear a face covering even if it is not legally required. You should support your staff if they choose to wear face coverings, and ensure they are aware of the guidance on using face coverings safely.

In areas where face coverings are required:

  • Customers must wear a face covering in indoor areas where face coverings are required.
  • Staff and other workers must wear face coverings (unless they are exempt) when they are working in any indoor area that is open to the public and where they are likely to come into contact with a member of the public.
    • If staff are required to wear face coverings in the workplace, you could choose to provide these for staff (for example, so they match staff uniforms). However your staff can wear their own face coverings if they choose to.
    • A face visor or shield may be worn in addition to a face covering but not instead of one. This is because face visors or shields do not adequately cover the nose and mouth, and do not filter airborne particles.
    • If any of your staff work in close contact with guests (such as massage therapists, security staff, hair and makeup technicians and beauticians), or work in contaminated areas (such as cleaners), you should also think about whether they need additional protection or personal protective equipment (PPE) to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. See the section on additional protection and PPE for more information.
  • People can take off their face covering when they have a good reason to remove it (a ‘reasonable excuse’), such as taking medication or getting medical treatment (for example, in a medical tent at an event). For example, people can take off their face covering when they are eating or drinking in any area. They must put their face covering back on when this reason no longer applies (when they have stopped eating or drinking).
    • Face coverings should not be worn when people are exercising (including dancing) or taking part in strenuous activity, unless this is advised by a medical practitioner.
  • There is a reasonable excuse for someone to remove a face covering when it is reasonably necessary for them to sing; for example, if they are singing as part of a choir, or during a service or rehearsal, or for a performance.
    • Read the section on amateur performing arts activity for more information on how this applies to performing arts activities, such as amateur theatre productions, choir groups and musical performances.
    • This only applies where it is reasonably necessary to sing, and not in other circumstances. For example, it would be reasonably necessary for people who are carol-singing for charity in a shopping centre to sing, and they could remove their face coverings if they choose to. But it would not be reasonably necessary for shoppers and other people in the shopping centre to sing, so they could choose to sing along but would not have a reasonable excuse to remove their face coverings.
    • Where singing is reasonably necessary, people can choose to keep their face covering on if they prefer to (and this is recommended, where possible).
  • Different rules apply to people doing some types of work, such as performers and athletes. See below for more information on how this applies to people in your venue or at your event.

Remind your staff and customers to wear a face covering in indoor spaces where they are legally required.

  • You are legally required to make sure people are aware that they must wear face coverings in certain areas (unless they are exempt), by displaying signs in your facility which can be easily seen by people using the facility, or taking other steps to make sure all customers and staff are aware of the rules. Download and print a poster you can put up in your business.
    • If face coverings are required in some areas, putting notices in or near these areas will help to remind your customers of this.
    • If the area where face coverings are required on your site is a separate business, it is that business’s responsibility to put up signs or let their customers know about the requirement. You should discuss this with them as it may be helpful to put signs up in an area of your business so that your guests are aware of this before they enter the area where face coverings are required.
    • You could also let customers know in advance (for example, through your advertising and when booking) if there are areas where face coverings should be worn, or ask staff to remind customers.
  • You may also want to tell guests that they should remove face coverings if they are asked to by police, or staff who need to check their identity.
  • If a guest or customer refuses to wear a face covering where it is a legal requirement:
    • There is no requirement on staff to ensure compliance from customers. However, your workers can ask the customer (or their guardian, if it is a child aged 11 or over) to put their face covering on.
    • If a customer refuses to wear a face covering properly, you can ask them to leave your venue, though you are not required to take any action.
  • The police and police community support officers can enforce compliance if members of the public do not comply with this law without a reasonable excuse. Transport operators can deny access to their public transport services, or direct someone to wear a face covering or to leave a service, if not wearing one without a legitimate reason.
  • Local authority enforcement officers can also use their enforcement powers against businesses for failing to display appropriate signage or breaching the prohibition against preventing someone from wearing a face covering.

Remember that some people cannot wear face coverings or aren’t required to.

  • This includes:
    • children under 11
    • people who can’t wear face coverings because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or a disability, or because it would cause them severe distress.
    • people who are assisting someone who needs to lip read (or needs clear sound and facial expressions to communicate)
  • The reasons for this may not be visible to others. Make sure that staff are mindful and respectful of people’s circumstances, if customers cannot wear a face covering.
  • Think about how you can help staff and customers to communicate effectively. For example, let staff know that they can remove face coverings if they need to communicate with a customer who lip-reads, or arrange for training on other ways to communicate. Transparent face coverings may also be helpful for people who communicate through lip-reading or facial expressions.

In areas of your facility where face coverings are not required:

Encourage people to wear face coverings (using signs and other communications), in indoor areas where people may come into contact with others they do not normally meet.

You can also ask staff or customers to wear face coverings in areas where it is not legally required, as your own facility’s policy:

  • If you want staff and customers to wear face coverings in places where it is not legally required, make sure you comply with equality law, and health and safety legislation. Think about the reasonable adjustments that would be needed for workers and customers with disabilities.
  • If you’re asking staff to wear them, you should also check that this complies with employment law and your staff’s contracts.
    • If staff tell you they are unable to wear a face covering, you should be respectful of their circumstances. You can make reasonable enquiries and request medical evidence from them (with their permission) if this is appropriate. However this is private health data which needs to be stored securely, and should only be requested where it is necessary, and only shared with the employee’s permission.

Your workers may choose to wear a face covering in the workplace.

  • Workers may also choose to wear a face covering in the workplace even if you do not ask or encourage them to wear one.
  • You should support your staff if they choose to wear face coverings, and ensure they are aware of the guidance on using face coverings safely.

Face covering requirements for events and venues

Indoor public places

Face coverings are required in most indoor public settings, including the following indoor venues (or indoor areas of these venues):

  • Community centres, youth centres, members’ clubs and social clubs.
  • Concert halls, exhibition halls, conference centres and other public halls.
  • Cinemas and theatres.
  • Museums, galleries, and other tourist, heritage or cultural sites.
  • Aquariums, zoos and visitor farms.
  • Bingo halls.
  • Public libraries and reading rooms.
  • Casinos.
  • Snooker and pool halls.
  • Amusement arcades and adult gaming centres.
  • Circuses, theme parks and funfairs.
  • Games and recreation venues (including bowling alleys, laser quest, escape rooms, adventure activity centres, recreational driving facilities, and indoor play areas including soft-play areas).
  • Skating rinks (except on the ice and in other areas where people are taking part in sport or exercising).
  • Sport stadiums (except where people are taking part in sport or exercising).
  • Shops, supermarkets or other retail facilities. See the guidance for shops and retail.
  • Public areas in hotels and hostels. See the guidance for hotels and guest accommodation.
  • Personal care and beauty facilities (such as hair salons, barbers, nail salons, massage centres, tattoo and piercing parlours). See the guidance for close contact services.

Read the face coverings guidance for a full list of settings where face coverings are required.

The rules for the venue (or areas of the venue) will apply to events taking place at these venues (except for some specific activities and types of venues - see more on amateur performing arts and community activities).

This also applies to these facilities where they are part of another venue or event site, regardless of whether face coverings are required in other areas. For example, face coverings would not be required at an outdoor event, but would be required in indoor shops within the event site.

Transport services

Face coverings are required in indoor areas of transport hubs and public transport services. This means any transport service going from one place to another which is available to the general public, regardless of whether it is operated as a public transport (e.g. commuter) service or a leisure service for tourism or other purposes. It applies to any parts of the journey in England, regardless of whether or not people pay for the service, whether all of the places on the journey are in England, or whether or not there are breaks in the journey.

Face coverings must be worn by customers and staff in indoor areas of:

  • Transport hubs (airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals).
    • This includes businesses which are part of a transport hub (except hospitality venues), such as a shop or entertainment facility in an airport or train station.
  • Public transport vehicles (such as aeroplanes, trains, trams and buses).
  • Taxis and private hire vehicles (such as a hired coach, boat or plane).
  • Leisure transport such as a bus or boat tour, or private coach tour.
  • Heritage railway services which operate as public transport (going from place to place, i.e. a journey from point A to point B).
  • Private transport as part of a business or on a venue site, such as a bus taking people from a car park to a heritage attraction.

If areas on transport services are being used mostly for eating, drinking or dancing (such as an event in a function room on a boat), face coverings do not have to be worn in these areas.

In a transport service with accommodation, people can remove their face coverings when they are in their own accommodation (such as a private cabin or berth). See the hotels and guest accommodation guidance for more information.

Face coverings are not required on:

  • school transport services (see the guidance on transport to schools and colleges)
  • cruise ships
  • heritage railway services provided primarily for dining or other recreational purposes, or for the carriage of passengers from the same start and end point
  • transport services which are being used wholly or mainly by people eating, drinking or dancing (such as a boat or coach hired for a wedding reception or party)

Places where face coverings are not required

Although face coverings are legally required in most public indoor venues, some venues and events are exempt from this requirement. Face coverings are not required by staff or customers in the following areas (or for events in these types of facility), even if they are within a larger venue where face coverings are required:

  • Outside, on any outdoor areas or facilities of your site.
  • Hospitality facilities or areas on your site (such as restaurants, canteens, cafes, bars and pubs).
    • This includes nightclubs, dance halls and discotheques, and any venue or area which operates in the same way as a nightclub (opens at night, has a space for dancing by members of the public and provides music for dancing).
    • If your entire event takes place in a hospitality facility, face coverings are not required.
  • Any other venue or area that is being used wholly or mainly by people eating, drinking, exercising and/or dancing (such as a function room being used for a wedding reception).
    • For example, at an indoor music venue, people would not be required to wear face coverings in a performance area (such as an auditorium or dance floor) if it is mainly being used by people drinking and/or dancing. Attendees would need to wear face coverings in other areas of the venue which are not mainly being used for these activities.
  • Sport and exercise facilities, including gyms, fitness studios, dance studios, leisure centres, swimming pools, and water/aqua parks. However, people should be encouraged to wear face coverings in areas where they are not exercising, such as reception areas or social/lounge areas (except in areas where face coverings are not required, such as cafes).
    • This also applies to any other venue, or area of a venue, which is being used wholly or mainly by people taking exercise or dancing. For example, if a room in a shop or museum is being used for an exercise class, people would not be required to wear face coverings. However, face coverings would be required in other areas of the venue.
  • Photography studios.
  • Medical settings, including physiotherapy and injury treatment.

Read the face coverings guidance for more information on the settings where face coverings are required.

Different rules apply to people doing some types of work, such as performers and athletes.

  • In some circumstances, people cannot do their work effectively while wearing a face covering - for example athletes and performers, and emergency workers.
  • People doing these types of work are not required to wear a face covering while they are working, but can choose to wear one. This only applies when they are working; when they are not, they should follow the same rules as other workers or customers.
  • This includes:
    • Elite athletes and coaches, professional dancers and choreographers, and sport officials like referees, when they are participating in competitions, events and training activities. See the elite sport guidance for more information on elite sport.
    • Professional performers (and amateur performers who are part of professional performing arts activities), when they are performing or rehearsing (for example in a theatre or presenting or appearing on-screen in audiovisual productions, or in interactive experiences such as Santa’s grottos).
    • Emergency workers, when they are on duty.

Example of how face covering requirements apply to events and venues

If you operate a venue where face coverings are required (e.g. an entertainment venue such as a cinema, theatre or concert hall):

  • Customers are required to wear face coverings in all areas, except in exempt areas such as hospitality facilities (e.g. an on-site bar, cafe or restaurant).
  • Staff are required to wear face coverings in all public areas (areas open to the public or where they are likely to come into contact with members of the public), except exempt areas such as hospitality facilities (e.g. an on-site bar, cafe or restaurant).
  • Staff are not required to wear face coverings in non-public areas (such as backstage areas, or offices and areas not open to the public).
  • Customers and staff can remove their face coverings if they are eating or drinking in any area of the venue. Unless they are in a hospitality area (such as a cafe or bar), they must replace their face coverings when they are not eating or drinking.
  • People performing at the venue (such as actors and musicians) could remove their face coverings for a performance. They should wear face coverings when they are not performing or rehearsing.

Different rules apply to certain kinds of activities, such as amateur performing arts activities and supervised activities for children.

Amateur performing arts productions and activities

Performances

People performing in amateur performing arts activities (such as amateur theatre productions and choir groups) are not required to wear face coverings during a performance with an audience, or which is being recorded for an intended audience, in any venue. This extends to anyone performing (for example, acting, singing, dancing, playing a musical instrument).

This exemption applies to performers, and does not apply to other people who are involved in the performance (such as crew members, lighting technicians and ushers). If the performance takes place in a venue where face coverings are required, people who are not performing must wear a face covering (unless they are exempt) when they are in areas open to the public and where they are likely to come into contact with the public. They can remove their face covering when they have a reasonable excuse, for example when they are doing strenuous activity such as moving heavy equipment. They are not required to wear a face covering when they are in areas which are not open to the public, such as backstage areas.

Audience members must wear face coverings if the performance takes place in a venue where face coverings are required. Where singing is reasonably necessary (such as a sing-a-long event, or an event with audience participation such as carol singing), the event organiser should ask audiences to keep their face coverings on throughout the performance (including while they are singing) if they can.

Rehearsals

If a rehearsal has been organised as part of the performance (e.g. arranged by the organisation or venue they are performing for), amateur performers are exempt from wearing face coverings while they are rehearsing or doing other activities which are part of the performance.

This exemption does not apply to other rehearsals or amateur performing arts activities (for example, if a group of people decide to book a venue to rehearse and it is not organised as part of the performance preparation).

If a rehearsal which has not been organised as part of the performance preparation takes place in a venue where face coverings are required, performers and other crew members must wear face coverings during rehearsals and other activities. There are some limited exceptions to this when people could remove their face coverings:

  • Face coverings should not be worn during strenuous activities, including exercising, dancing, and when moving heavy scenery and equipment.
  • Performers can remove their face coverings if it is reasonably necessary for them to do so, such as to play a musical instrument, or to sing (if they feel they need to remove their face covering to do so). However, they should be encouraged to keep their face coverings on if they can.
  • Performers may wish to avoid taking their face covering off and putting it back on a lot in quick succession. This means for mixed roles (e.g. those which involve a mixture of singing and speaking), the performer can choose to remove their face covering for the duration of their rehearsal if they prefer.

Activities in community settings

People are not required to wear face coverings when they are doing certain types of activity, provided they take place in certain types of venues and are not open to the public.

This applies to:

  • Work-related activities, such as meeting a work requirement, professional training (accredited/recognised by a professional body), and work skills programmes like training or a placement. This includes activities related to volunteering or charitable roles.
  • Organised parent and child groups.
  • Childcare (by registered childcare person).
  • Organised and supervised activities for children. This applies to activities which take place for the purpose of teaching, training, instructing, or otherwise caring for or improving the wellbeing of a child (or a person who was under 18 on 31 August 2021).

These activities must take place in a separate and enclosed part of the following venues that is not open to other visitors or members of the public, or if the entire venue is being used by this group for this activity. If the activity area is not in a separate and enclosed area (or the venue is open to the public or being used for other activities) face coverings must be worn. This applies to:

  • places of worship
  • community centres, youth centres, members’ clubs and social clubs
  • concert halls, exhibition halls, conference centres and other public halls
  • public libraries and reading rooms
  • theatres

Additional protection and personal protective equipment (PPE)

In some types of work, the risk of COVID-19 transmission is higher. Wearing face coverings may not provide enough protection to keep people safe, for example if they have to be in close contact with members of the public for their work.

It may be necessary to provide some workers with different types of protective equipment, because the risk of COVID-19 spreading is higher when people are in close contact with others or have to be in a contaminated area.

This could include things like specific types of face covering (such as a Type II face mask), which is a medical face mask. However this is not the same as PPE, which is specific types of equipment needed to protect people who work in higher-risk settings. PPE is mainly used in healthcare and social care, and is not usually required for workers in most other types of business. It should only be used where the risk is high, and not as a general precaution.

Consider whether some workers need additional protection.

  • Use your risk assessment to think about whether some staff need to take additional precautions. This will not apply to most staff, but may be needed for some people if there is a higher risk of infection in the work they do.
  • Staff who work in close contact with their customers (such as security staff, beauty therapists, hairdressers and massage therapists) may need or want to wear equipment that provides more protection, because the risk of COVID-19 spreading is higher when people are in close contact with others.
    • Personal care practitioners (such as beauticians or hairdressers) who conduct treatments which require them to be in close proximity with a person’s face, mouth or nose, should wear a Type II face mask where possible. This is a medical face mask which provides more protection against large particles reaching the client or working surfaces.
    • Equipment such as a face visor or shield can provide additional protection, and may be worn in addition to a face covering. However, face visors and shields cannot be worn instead of a face covering. This is because face visors or shields do not adequately cover the nose and mouth, and do not filter airborne particles.
    • You can find more advice in the guidance for close contact services.

Take additional care when cleaning after a confirmed case of COVID-19.

  • If any of your staff work in potentially contaminated areas (such as cleaners and housekeeping staff) you should also think about whether they need personal protective equipment (PPE) to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
  • It is not necessary to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) or clothing for general cleaning. However, if staff are cleaning after someone who has (or may have) COVID-19 has been to your facility, they will need additional protection because the risk is higher in a contaminated area.
    • You should provide aprons and disposable gloves for people who are cleaning after a case (or possible case) of COVID-19.
  • This is particularly important if they have to clean a room that someone with COVID-19 has been using for an extended period of time, such as an enclosed meeting room, as the level of virus particles in the room could be very high. You may need to provide cleaners with personal protective equipment (such as a protective face mask or visor) to protect their eyes, mouth and nose in these areas. Read the guidance on cleaning after a case of COVID-19 for more information.
  • If your risk assessment shows that PPE is required for some workers, you must provide this PPE free of charge to workers who need it. Make sure that the PPE you provide fits properly, or it will not be as effective in reducing risk to your workers.

Additional guidance: heritage locations

In this section:

Safety measures at historic sites

If you choose to put in place safety measures for heritage locations, you should ensure they are suitable for your site.

  • Take a proportionate approach. A famous stately home popular with guests may need a mix of approaches (regular signs on visitor routes, and staff on-hand to remind visitors of any special measures in place), while an isolated archaeological site or remote historic structure is unlikely to need any specific signs or special measures.
  • Consider how best to manage visitors without damaging historic buildings or materials, such as communicating information through temporary barriers or standalone signs, rather than posters. Read the section on communicating with customers for more advice.
  • Temporary floor markings (e.g. using tape, stickers, reversible paint or signs) can also be used if you wish to implement one-way routes, although care should be taken when using any adhesives or marking materials as they may damage sensitive floor materials (particularly if in place for extended periods).
  • If you are putting in place measures such as temporary visitor routes and one-way systems outdoors (e.g. in historic parks, gardens and archaeological sites), consider the best way to do this for the site. For example, you could create mown paths in grassland, but you should monitor these routes for visitor erosion and revise them as needed to protect your site. You should avoid placing routes (and equipment such as bins and benches) over archaeological features or earthworks, or damaging garden planting or features.
  • Ensure that measures maintain accessibility. Where routes are revised (e.g. if you choose to implement one-way systems) consider how to ensure they remain accessible to all visitors. Where temporary routes are not accessible to people using wheelchairs, you must make every effort to find a practical alternative, such as using alternative entrances and exits for users in wheelchairs and carers).

Temporary works at historic sites

You should consider whether you will require consent or planning permission for any physical interventions or safety measures taken at your location.

Where physical alterations that affect listed buildings or scheduled monuments are necessary, listed building consent (LBC) or scheduled monument consent (SMC) is usually required. However, if temporary works are needed to allow heritage sites to function safely in response to COVID-19, they can be carried out in ways that will not require consent, but you should confirm this by seeking appropriate advice, from your local planning authority (in relation to LBC) or Historic England (in relation to SMC).

There are a number of ways in which physical interventions can be undertaken without damaging the historic fabric of listed buildings, and which do not affect what is important about a place (the ‘special interest’ in the case of a listed building). These types of interventions will not need LBC (although planning permission may be required - see the box below).

It is an offence to carry out unauthorised works to a listed building, a scheduled monument or a protected wreck. If you are unsure of a site’s status, speak to the local planning authority (in the case of listed buildings) or Historic England (in the case of scheduled monuments or protected wrecks).

Key points for heritage locations:

  • Check which system applies to your heritage location. This may be LBC, SMC or another system (for example, many places of worship are exempt from LBC as they have a parallel system of management). On a complex site with multiple structures, more than one system may apply. You can find more information on the different systems below, in the section on guidance for different types of facility. You should check with your local planning authority and Historic England which system applies to your location and follow the relevant processes.
  • Record any measures taken on your risk assessment, including changes to processes or physical alterations to heritage assets. The site operator should review changes regularly to ensure they are effective, and that they are not causing permanent damage to the historic fabric.
  • Check if you need planning permission or advertising consent. Planning permission may be required for some temporary changes (such as installing a gazebo in the grounds of a designated heritage asset), even where LBC or SMC is not. Advertising consent may be needed for changes involving signage. You should check whether consent or permission are required for your planned works with your local planning authority (or Historic England in relation to SMCs).
  • If installing temporary structures such as gazebos, ensure they are not located in archaeologically sensitive areas. The insertion and removal of spikes and fixings can damage underlying archaeology. You can find further advice from Historic England on installing temporary structures.
  • Contact sector specialists (such as the Historic England regional office) if you need advice. Sector bodies can help you to understand what you need to do, or suggest alternative ways in which COVID-19 mitigation measures might be achieved without the need for consent, for example by locating them away from the monument.

Guidance for different types of facility

Scheduled Monuments

  • Most interventions to scheduled monuments will require SMC to be obtained in advance.
  • If you are considering works to a scheduled monument (temporary or otherwise), you should contact the relevant Historic England regional office, who can suggest ways to implement safety measures without the need for consent.

World Heritage Sites

  • Some parts or elements of World Heritage Sites may also have a national designation, and must follow this guidance to operate in a COVID-Secure way. However they should also be aware of any advice issued by relevant bodies such as World Heritage Site Coordinators and their Steering Groups.
  • It is the responsibility of individual operators to assess their site to determine whether it is safe to allow public access. Extensive World Heritage Sites, such as the City of Bath, will contain many individual historic commercial premises, attractions and publicly accessible historic spaces, and should ensure they have reviewed guidance for the relevant areas and types of facility within their site.

Marine sites

  • Marine wrecks may be designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 (PoWA), the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986 (PoWRA) or as Scheduled Monuments.
  • It is an offence to carry out unauthorised works to a protected wreck or scheduled monument. If you are unsure of a site’s status, speak to Historic England and the Marine Management Organisation.
  • All professional and recreational divers should comply with HSE regulations, and review any relevant guidance for advice, such as the British Sub-Aqua Club’s guidance on safe diving.

Places of Worship

  • Many places of worship are exempt from LBC as they have a parallel system of management in place. You should check with your local planning authority and Historic England which system applies to your location and follow the relevant processes.
  • Where the religious group or denomination benefits from the ecclesiastical exemption, works to listed churches or other buildings are controlled by the denomination, except where the works need planning permission (for example, works to the exteriors of churches).
  • The denomination’s special advisers will be able to advise the congregations of those churches as to which works need consent, and may also be able to advise on appropriate relaxations of the system in some generic circumstances.

Listed Buildings

Many works to listed buildings require consent, even for limited or temporary works. However, where temporary works are necessary in order to operate safely within the context of COVID-19, local planning authorities may choose to apply the consent and permission systems flexibly, with the benefit of appropriate specialist advice.

Some examples of work which may not require Listed Buildings Consent are listed below. This should not be treated as a definitive list, given the wide variety and unique nature of historic buildings and sites, and the impact of measures will differ. You can find more information on consent in Historic England’s guidance on heritage consents and guidance on listed building consent, or speak to your local planning authority. You should also remember that some works may also require planning permission, and some new signage may require advertisement consent.

LBC may not be needed

An LBC is unlikely to be needed where you are adding or installing temporary measures which do not cause any permanent damage. This could include:

  • installing temporary screens
  • temporarily covering surfaces
  • adding temporary floor markings and signage
  • ‘boxing-in’ particularly sensitive features
  • adding temporary lightweight shelter structures (such as gazebos or marquees)
  • installing temporary ramps in new accessible routes
  • adding temporary signs to indicate new/one-way routes
  • adding temporary freestanding barriers, signs and hand sanitiser stations

LBC likely to be needed

An LBC is more likely to be required where the work is invasive or non-reversible. This could include:

  • inserting safety screens or barriers that remove or cut through historic detailing (such as decorative cornices or coving), or where chases are cut into historic wall surfaces
  • removing or altering features such as historic handrails, even if for a temporary period
  • Installing signage intended to be permanent, and which affects the physical fabric and/or visual appearance of the structure
  • widening doors, making new openings, inserting permanent ramps, removing stairs or other permanent alterations for new staff, customer or visitor flows
  • making extensive nail or screw holes important historic fabric in order to secure screens, barriers or other structures

Additional guidance: event planning

In this section:

This section sets out advice for event organisers on the factors you should take into when planning an event. This guidance applies to indoor or outdoor events of any size, organised by businesses, charitable organisations, or public bodies.

Key principles for event planning

The following key principles set out the processes to work through and factors to consider when planning an event, to ensure it can take place as safely as possible.

Assess the risks relevant to your event and put in place practical measures to reduce them.

  • Follow the steps in the section on risk assessments, and pay particular attention to the advice for events. This sets out the key risks for events identified by the Events Research Programme, and can help you to understand how the characteristics of your event may affect the risk of COVID-19 transmission, and which actions can help you to reduce these risks.
  • Read the section on managing customers, crowds and events and consider how best to manage your customers based on your risk assessment. For example, you could put in place crowd management measures if your event involves large numbers of attendees. See the section below on managing large events.
  • Make sure your risk assessment includes protocols for managing suspected or confirmed cases amongst attendees.
    • Follow the steps set out in the section on managing customers, crowds and events, and make sure your event planning includes appropriate levels of medical coverage.
    • Elite sport and other major events should agree their case management protocols with the event’s or venue’s medical officer. You can find more information on medical protocols in the guidance for elite sport.
  • You can use the risk management template to identify risks and risk management options specific to your event or setting, and help you to plan your event.

Take steps to reduce the risk of transmission at the event, including putting in place cleaning and hygiene protocols, and ensuring your venue has enough ventilation.

  • If you are not the venue owner/operator, or you are hiring a venue for your event, discuss ventilation and cleaning with the venue operator. Make sure you are comfortable with their risk management protocols. You should agree with the venue in advance any additional measures you will take to manage risk, such as opening windows to increase ventilation.
  • Elite sport event organisers should review existing protocols to ensure they are appropriate for the event, including the attendance of spectators. For example, consult the medical officer to ensure the medical protocols include sufficient cover for the number of spectators expected. Read the guidance for elite sport for more information.

Engage with local authorities and other relevant bodies early in your event planning process, to ensure your event can take place as safely as possible.

  • Local authorities and local transport operators play an important role in enabling events to take place as safely as possible. Engaging with these groups as early as possible in the planning process will help all partners to understand how you have identified and mitigated any risks, and ensure your event can take place as safely as possible.
  • You can find more information on working with these groups in the section on working with partners.

Think about how to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading in your venue or event.

  • Check if you need to do mandatory COVID status checks for people using some areas of your facility, or attending events in your facility.
    • If this does not apply to your facility or event, think about whether you should check people’s COVID status on a voluntary basis, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading at your facility or event.
    • Read the section on COVID status checks for more detail on when this will apply and what you need to do.
  • Consider displaying an NHS QR code poster so that customers can check in using the NHS COVID-19 app.**
    • You are not required to display an NHS QR code, to collect customer contact details, or keep a record of your staff and visitors.
    • However, allowing customers to check in using the NHS COVID-19 app will help NHS Test and Trace to reduce the spread of the virus.
    • If you choose to display an NHS QR code, you do not have to ask customers to check in, or turn them away if they refuse. However, you should also have a system to collect (and securely store) names and contact details, for those who ask to check in but who do not have access to a smartphone or who prefer not to use the app. Read about how to keep records for NHS Test and Trace.

Consider how best to communicate information to attendees.

  • This should include ensuring that attendees are aware of relevant information before they attend, and that messaging during the event (such as signs and audio announcements) supports the communication of any relevant safety measures.
  • You can find more information in the section on communicating with customers.

Make sure that you are following the law on face coverings, which may be required in some areas of your event.

  • Check whether face coverings are required indoors in your event venue, or in some indoor areas (such as shops, theatres, games and recreation venues, and transport hubs or services). Read the section on face coverings for more information.
  • Remember that some workers at your event may want or need to take additional precautions, if they work in close contact with customers or in contaminated areas. If your facility or event includes staff providing close contact services (such as medical personnel, security staff, hair and makeup technicians, beauticians, and massage therapists), or staff who may work in contaminated areas (such as cleaners), read the section on additional protection and PPE for more information on what you need to do.

Ensure that your event takes place in line with relevant guidance.

Event communications

Communications with attendees are an important part of event planning, particularly if you are putting in place any safety measures your attendees should be aware of.

Put in place a communications plan to ensure relevant information on COVID-19 measures is communicated to attendees before and during the event.

  • Consider how best to communicate with your event or sector. For example, elite sport events can use regular communication with fans to support this messaging, as well as the event-specific communications.
  • Websites, social media channels and any digital or written engagement should include up-to-date information on any attendee obligations or requirements in relation to COVID-19.
  • Where appropriate, consider putting in place an attendee code of behaviour which sets out the information that spectators, audiences or other attendees should be aware of, and the measures they should follow at the event. See the box below for more advice on how you could use an attendee code of behaviour to reinforce messaging.

Use pre-event communications to inform attendees of important information:

  • Ensure that any relevant requirements or conditions of entry and requirements (such as the COVID status checks or negative test requirements) are well-communicated at the point of sale.
  • If face coverings are required or recommended at your event (or in some areas, such as shops), you should communicate this to attendees in advance, where possible.
    • You may also want to include the information on your website, in marketing communications, or booking conditions.
    • You may also want to inform customers that they might be asked to remove face coverings, if they are asked by police officers or staff for identification purposes.
  • Where possible, you should remind customers that they must wear face coverings when travelling on public transport (including taxis and private hire vehicles), and in public transport hubs (such as rail or bus stations) unless they are exempt. This is particularly important for large events, and if your venue has direct entrances or exits into transport hubs.
  • Your pre-event communications should alert customers not to travel to, or attend, events if they have COVID-19 symptoms. You should remind customers that they should not attend if they have been instructed to self-isolate.
  • You should provide attendees with information on safety measures (such as changes to the venue) and guidance they should follow.
    • Read the general section on communicating with customers for more advice on how you can let attendees know how to visit your event safely.

Communications during the event.

  • Onsite signage and audio messaging should provide up-to-date information on any attendee obligations or requirements.
  • Staff and volunteers should be made aware of any attendee obligations or requirements and be able to provide guidance and respond to queries.
  • All information should be made available to people with other access requirements, including those with visual and hearing impairments.
  • In areas where customers are required to wear face coverings (unless they are exempt), you must make sure people are aware of this requirement, for example by displaying signs or taking other measures. Download and print a poster to display.
    • You can also ask staff to remind people to wear face coverings in these areas.
    • You may also want to inform customers that they might be asked to remove face coverings, if they are asked by police officers or staff for identification purposes.
    • Where possible, you should remind customers that they must wear face coverings when travelling on public transport (including taxis and private hire vehicles), and in public transport hubs (such as rail or bus stations) unless they are exempt. This is particularly important for large events, and if your venue has direct entrances or exits into transport hubs. For example, you could include this in your crowd management communications at the end of the event.
    • Read the section on face coverings for more information on your legal obligations and the things you should think about.

Attendee code of behaviour

Organisers may want to issue a code of conduct to attendees, as part of their pre-event communications. This is particularly useful for large events with crowds, such as elite sport events with spectators, large music events and festivals.

This could include asking attendees to agree that they will:

  • Undertake their own health risk assessment, considering if they wish to travel to, and attend, such an event (taking into account their own age and any health conditions or vulnerabilities).
  • Follow any relevant guidance on travel, such as the safer travel guidance.
    • This should include reminding customers that they must wear face coverings when travelling on public transport (including taxis and private hire vehicles), and in public transport hubs (such as rail or bus stations) unless they are exempt. This is particularly important for large events, and if your venue has direct entrances or exits into transport hubs.
    • For large events with an international audience (such as major cross-border sporting events), this should include relevant regulations on international travel, such as testing and quarantine measures.
  • Check for symptoms of COVID-19 (a high temperature, new and persistent cough, or a loss of/change in sense of taste or smell) before travelling to the event. Spectators should be informed that if they, or anyone they live with, have one or more of these symptoms (even if they are mild) they should not attend, and should follow the guidance on testing and self-isolation.
  • Not attend the event if they need to self-isolate, for example because they have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or because they have had a positive test.
  • If you are required to (or choose to) check attendees’ COVID status at your event, to demonstrate their COVID-19 status through vaccination, testing or an exemption, as a condition of entry.
  • Adhere to any relevant COVID-19 safety measures in place at the event, including observing directions given by stewards.
  • Adhere to any other relevant behaviours identified through your risk assessment or usual event planning, such as responsible use of alcohol.

You could also use this communication to encourage attendees to use the NHS COVID-19 app and scan your QR code poster, to support NHS Test and Trace. However, this should not be a condition of entry.

When COVID status checks are required

Some venues and events are legally required to check the COVID status of attendees and customers.

If this applies to your venue or event, you are required by law to check the COVID status of your customers (aged 18 and over) and only admit people who are fully vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID-19 in the last 48 hours (or are exempt). You are also strongly advised to check that workers (aged 18 and over) in customer-facing roles meet these requirements.

You are also legally required to produce a statement setting out how you will do this, and keep records of events and venues where you have used COVID status checks.

If you break the law, enforcement action can be taken against you. You can be prosecuted or a fixed penalty notice can be issued.

You can check people’s COVID status using the NHS COVID Pass, or other forms of evidence such as a valid text or email confirmation of a negative test from NHS Test and Trace.

Fully vaccinated for these purposes means vaccinated with 2 doses of an approved vaccine (or one of the single-dose Janssen vaccine).

Check if this applies to your venue or event

There are different rules for different types of venues and events. Check the information below to see which apply to your venue/event, and whether your event or venue meets the criteria for mandatory COVID status checks. You should check all 3 sections, as different rules may apply to some types of events when they take place in different venues.

You can find information on:

  • Events, which applies to events in most types of venues (except those with specific rules). This includes specific advice for theatres and sport stadiums with outdoor areas.
  • Events with specific rules, including sport participation events, and exempt events which do not require COVID status checks in any setting (such as wedding ceremonies and funerals).
  • Venues with specific rules, such as nightclubs and late-night dance venues, hospitality venues, private dwellings and public outdoor places.

Events

COVID status checks are not automatically required in most venues. Whether COVID status checks are required depends on the type of event being held and the number of attendees (which includes customers, guests, spectators and audience members, but not staff or other people working at the event).

If your event takes place in one of the following venues, different rules may apply. Please see the section below with specific advice for these venues: nightclubs, dance halls, discotheques and other late night venues; hospitality venues (such as bars, pubs and restaurants); private dwelling and outdoor public places.

If your event takes place in one of the following types of venues, COVID status checks are not automatically required as a condition of entry. Whether COVID status checks are required will depend on whether your event meets the threshold for mandatory COVID status checks.

  • museums or art galleries
  • theme parks and fairgrounds
  • tourist, heritage, or cultural sites (including zoos, aquariums and botanical gardens)
  • recreation and leisure facilities (such as bowling alleys, amusement arcades and bingo halls)
  • sport and physical activity facilities (such as gyms, swimming pools, and skating rinks)
  • play areas or centres
  • casinos
  • cinemas
  • transport hubs and public transport
  • retail, including markets, shops, shopping centres, and supermarkets

To determine whether the NHS COVID Pass will be required for your event, you will need to consider:

  1. Whether the activity you are hosting is considered to be an event.

  2. Whether your event is indoors or outdoors.

  3. Whether the number of attendees is likely to exceed the relevant threshold.

1. Whether the activity you are hosting is considered to be an event.

Events which may be subject to mandatory COVID status checks (if they meet these thresholds) include:

  • entertainment or performance events
  • sporting events
  • celebrations and social events
  • business conferences, trade shows, presentations, receptions and award shows

COVID status checks would not apply to activities which are not defined as events. For example, COVID status checks would not be required for people to enter a heritage site or walk around an outdoor trail. However, they would be required if the site hosted an event (such as a Christmas illumination trail, held on certain days and with ticketed entry) which met the thresholds.

2. Whether your event is indoors or outdoors.

If your event has 10,000 or more attendees, COVID status checks will be required regardless of whether it is indoors or outdoors.

For events with fewer than 10,000 attendees, there are different thresholds for events depending on whether they are indoors or outdoors.

A venue or area is considered to be indoors if it is covered by a roof (or part of a roof), and enclosed or mostly enclosed by walls. This includes temporary structures such as marquees, awnings and retractable roofs. If you are holding an event in an outdoor venue or area, you do not need to include walkways, stairwells, lifts, toilets and food and drink stalls as part of the event area, even if they are indoors.

For example:

  • An event taking place in an outside area (with no roof or walls) in the garden of a stately home would be considered to be outdoors, even if attendees need to walk through the indoors of the home to reach the event, or if indoor toilets are provided. If the event has 3,000 attendees, COVID status checks are not required, because the outdoor threshold is 4,000.
  • If the same event has a large marquee in the garden which has 3 or 4 sides and a roof, this is an indoor area (even though it is a temporary structure). COVID status checks will be required if more than 500 attendees (who do not have assigned seats and are moving around the event) are likely to be in indoor areas at the same time.

Outdoor areas of stadiums and theatres

Some areas of stadiums and theatres are automatically considered to be outdoor areas.

This includes seating, terraces or other standing areas within a stadium or theatre which:

  • are covered, or partly covered and partly uncovered, and
  • open onto an uncovered pitch, court, track, stage, or other open-air area where an event is taking place.

This means that an event in the bowl of a stadium or the performance area of an outdoor theatre with no roof, would be treated as outdoor events, and the outdoor thresholds would apply.

If indoor areas were also in use at the event (excluding walkways and facilities like toilets and food stalls in concourses), the indoor threshold would apply only if the indoor areas were likely to be used by 500 or more people at the same time.

For example:

  • An event at a stadium where 3,000 people are seated outdoors does not require COVID status checks if people only go indoors to use walkways, or to use facilities like toilets and food and drink stalls, or to leave the event.
  • At the same event, COVID status checks would be required if more than 500 people are likely to use indoor areas (such as indoor bars and function rooms) at the same time. This would not include indoor areas which open out onto an uncovered pitch, such as hospitality suites with a sliding door to the outdoor seating.

3. Whether the number of attendees is likely to exceed the relevant threshold.

Events with 10,000 or more attendees

COVID status checks are required for any events with 10,000 or more attendees, such as large sports and music events. You will need to check the COVID status of all attendees, regardless of whether they are seated or standing (except in limited circumstances where spot checks are permitted - read about spot checks). This applies to all events with 10,000 or more attendees, regardless of the type of venue or whether they are indoors or outdoors.

Events with fewer than 10,000 attendees

Indoor events require COVID status checks if there are 500 or more attendees (at any one time) who are likely to stand or move around for all or part of the event.

  • For example, this might apply to an event in a music venue with a standing audience, or to large receptions.
  • There may be more attendees than this in total, but you should not include attendees who are seated in designated seats in the total, because they are unlikely to move around during the event.
  • However, if this threshold is reached, you will be required to check the COVID status of all attendees, seated and standing.

Outdoor events:

  • Outdoor events require COVID status checks if there are 4,000 or more attendees (at any one time) who are likely to stand or move around for all or part of the event. For example, this might apply to an outdoor festival.
  • There may be more attendees than this in total (for example, if some attendees are seated and others have standing tickets). You should not include attendees who are seated in designated seats in the total, because they are unlikely to move around during the event.
  • However, if you do reach this threshold, you will be required to check the COVID status of all attendees, seated and standing.

Events with indoor and outdoor areas:

  • If your event takes place at a venue with both indoor and outdoor areas but the areas are separated (i.e. the event takes place only in indoor areas, or only in outdoor areas) - the rules for that type of event will apply.
  • If your event takes place in both indoor and outdoor areas, you will need to check the COVID status of all attendees if any of the thresholds is reached. This means that you will need to check the COVID status of every attendee if:

    • more than 500 attendees are likely to stand or move around in indoor areas at any point in time.
    • more than 4,000 attendees are likely to stand or move around in outdoor areas at any point in time.
    • there are 10,000 or more attendees in total (regardless of whether they are indoors or outdoors).

Read the guidance on mandatory COVID status checks for more information on how to assess if your venue or event is indoors or outdoors.

If your event takes place in the same venue as other events:

  • If there is more than one event taking place at a venue, the total number of attendees will depend on whether the attendees at the events are kept separate from each other. This means that attendees at the events are in different areas and are not expected to come into contact, except in shared entrances or exits, walkways, stairwells, lifts and bathroom facilities.
  • If attendees at your event are kept separate from attendees at the other event(s), you just need to assess your event and attendees.
  • If attendees at the events are not kept separate from each other (for example, there is a shared bar or food area), you must take into account the total number of attendees at all of the events. If the combined number of attendees meets the thresholds, COVID status checks are required for all attendees at all events.

If your venue capacity is above the threshold but attendance will be lower:

  • If you are holding an event in a venue big enough to require COVID status checks, but the number of attendees at your venue or event will be below the threshold, you are not required to check people’s COVID status. The thresholds apply to the number of attendees at your event, rather than the capacity of your venue.
  • However, you are required to take reasonable steps to make sure that the number of attendees will remain below the relevant threshold. For example, you could issue only a certain number of tickets, or count the number of attendees entering the venue and keep these under the relevant thresholds.
  • You should make sure that you have evidence of how you have done this in case you are asked for this (for example by a local authority enforcement officer).
  • For example, at an indoor event where attendees will be standing and moving around, at a venue which has an indoor capacity for 1,000 people:
    • The organiser expects that the event will only have 400 attendees, so COVID status checks will not be required because the threshold for indoor events (500 attendees likely to stand or move around) has not been reached.
    • The organiser takes reasonable steps to make sure that this threshold is not reached, by printing 400 tickets. 200 of these are sold in advance, so the organiser tells the venue staff that only 200 tickets can be sold on the door.
    • The organiser keeps a note that they have printed 400 tickets in their records for the event.

How to calculate the number of attendees at your event

When calculating the numbers of attendees in relation to the attendee thresholds, you should include attendees such as customers, visitors, audience members and spectators.

  • You should count people aged under 18 and people participating in an organised sporting event in this total.
  • You should not count people working or providing services for your event or venue (such as employees, performers, athletes, and suppliers). However, you should count people who are attending an event as part of their work.
    • For example: at a business conference, you should count individuals attending the event as part of their work (such as delegates) and they should show their COVID status if this is required at the event. You should not count people working at the conference, such as venue staff, stallholders and contractors. However, you should ask them to show their COVID status if they have a customer-facing role.

For both indoor and outdoor events (with fewer than 10,000 attendees) these thresholds only apply to attendees who are likely to stand or move around during the event.

You should not count attendees who are seated and remain in the same seat for the duration of the event (except during an interval or break). This includes people who:

  • have assigned seats (for example, who have booked certain seats or are assigned seats when they arrive).
  • can choose their own seats but remain in this seat (i.e. do not move to different seats or sit in different areas) throughout the event.
  • have assigned seats but choose to stand next to their seat during the event.
  • leave their seat to get food or drinks, or to use bathrooms and other facilities, or during a break or interval, but return to the same seat.

You should count attendees if they:

  • will be standing or moving around
  • will have seats available but these will not be assigned (i.e. people can switch seats during the events)
  • can move around to different seats, tables or areas during the event

COVID status checks are only required if the number of attendees at the event at one time exceeds the relevant threshold. You are not required to check people’s COVID status if the number of attendees at the event will be below these thresholds at all times, even if the total number of people who will attend the event is higher.

  • For example, an outdoor festival running over 4 days may have more than 4,000 attendees (who are likely to stand or move around) in total. But if only 3,500 are likely to attend on each day, COVID status checks would not be required.
  • For some events, you can also use ticket sales or timed ticketing to organise your event so that COVID status checks are not required.
    • For example, 2,000 people may attend an indoor event or exhibition over the course of a day, but COVID status checks would not be required if only 250 people are admitted to the venue at the same time.

If your event reaches the relevant threshold or attendees who are likely to stand or move around (500+ indoors, 4,000+ outdoors), you will be required to check the COVID status of all attendees, regardless of whether they are seated or moving around. For example:

  • If your event is indoors and there are 1,000 attendees, but 600 people have assigned seats, there are only 400 people who are likely to move around during the event. COVID status certification is not required for any attendees.
  • If your event is indoors and there are 1,000 attendees, but only 300 people have assigned seats, there are 700 people who are likely to move around during the event. This is above the threshold for indoor events (500 people), so you must check the COVID status of all 1,000 attendees, including people who are moving around and people who are seated.

Read the guidance on mandatory COVID status checks for more information on what you need to do.

Events with specific rules

Sport events

Elite sport events

Elite sport events should follow the rules for events, unless they take place in a venue with different conditions.

If an elite sport event (such as a Premier League football match) takes place at a venue which may require certification:

  • People who are providing services to the event (such as the athletes, referees and other officials) should not be counted towards the thresholds. They are not required to show their COVID status, however, you should consider whether this is proportionately beneficially as part of your event-specific mitigations.
  • Other attendees, including spectators, should be counted towards the number of attendees and are required to show their COVID status.

If an elite sport event (such as a marathon) takes place in a public outdoor place:

  • If the event is free and is not ticketed, COVID status checks are not required.
  • If the event is not free and/or people have to get tickets, COVID status checks may be required, depending on whether the event meets the thresholds above. Officials and elite athletes should not be counted, regardless of whether they have paid to take part in the event.

Read the elite sport guidance for further advice on elite sport competitions.

Sport participation events

Anyone participating in an organised sporting event is exempt from the requirement to show evidence of their COVID status.

If a sport participation event (such as a half-marathon or fun run) takes place at a venue which may require certification:

  • People who are participating in sport or other fitness-related activity (including coaches) should be counted towards the number of attendees. However, if COVID status checks are required, they are not required to show their COVID status.
    • You should ask them for evidence that they are exempt from this requirement (i.e. evidence that they are participating in the sport or fitness-related activity) but not for evidence of their COVID status.
  • People who are providing services to the event (such as referees or other officials) should not be counted towards the thresholds. They are not required to show their COVID status, and it is not recommended that you ask these workers for evidence of their COVID status.
  • Other attendees, including spectators, should be counted towards the number of attendees and may be required to show their COVID status if any of the attendee thresholds are reached.

For example, if a fun run takes place in an outdoor venue:

  • If there are 1,000 participants (people running in the race), 2,000 attendees (spectators and other visitors), and 100 officials, the total is 3,000 (as officials are not counted). This does not meet the criteria for certification at an outdoor event (4,000), so attendees (spectators) do not need to show their COVID status.
  • If there are 2,000 participants (people running in the race), 5,000 attendees (spectators and other visitors) and 300 officials, the total is 7,000 people attending (as officials are not counted). Only 1,000 of the spectators have fixed seats, so 6,000 people are expected to stand or move around the venue. This meets the criteria for certification. The 4,000 attendees must show their COVID status to enter the venue, but the 2,000 participants in the event (and the officials) are not required to.

If a sport participation event (such as a half-marathon or fun run) takes place in a public outdoor place:

  • If the event is free and is not ticketed, COVID status checks are not required.
  • If the event is not free and/or people have to get tickets (whether they are free or not), COVID status checks may be required, depending on whether the event meets the thresholds above. People spectating and people participating in the event should be counted in this total, but if COVID status checks are required the participants will not have to show their COVID status. Sport officials should not be counted towards this total and are not required to show their COVID status.

This applies to sport participation events which take place at different kinds of venues, including an event at a school, Further Education or Higher Education site. However, schools, Further Education providers and Higher Education providers should not use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry for extra-curricular activities (including sport and physical activity), or any other day-to-day activities that are part of education or training. Read the grassroots sport guidance or the guidance on after-school clubs and other out-of-school settings for more advice.

Exempt events

COVID status checks are not required for certain types of events, in any type of venue. This applies to:

  • Communal worship, such as religious events in a place of worship.
  • Wedding and civil partnership ceremonies (except where they are combined with a reception which requires COVID status checks).
  • Significant life events, such as a wedding reception, or a celebration (provided this is organised by an individual, not a business). This does not include birthday parties. If a wedding reception is organised by a business, it is considered to be an event and COVID status checks may be required.
  • Funerals and other commemorative events (including rituals such as stone setting ceremonies, the scattering of ashes, and wakes).
  • Dance or exercise classes, or amateur or professional dance performances. COVID status checks are not required for these activities where they take place in a nightclub or a similar late-night venue. In other settings, COVID status checks may be required if the thresholds for events, or sport participation events, are met. Dance or exercise classes should follow the rules for sport participation events, and dance performances should follow the general rules for events.

Venues with specific rules (nightclubs, late-night dance venues, hospitality venues, private dwellings and public outdoor places)

Different rules apply to events which take place in some types of venues.

If your event takes place at a nightclub or similar late-night venue

Nightclubs, dance halls and discotheques are required to check the COVID status of all visitors (aged 18 or over) who enter the facility at any time. Only people who are fully vaccinated or provide a recent negative COVID-19 result can be admitted (unless they are exempt from these requirements).

Other late night venues are required to check the COVID status of all visitors (aged 18 or over) who are present between 1am and 5am.

  • This applies to venues which are not nightclubs, dance halls or discotheques, but which:
    • are open at any point between 1am and 5am;
    • serve alcohol after 1am;
    • have a dancefloor (or space for dancing); and
    • provide music (live or recorded) for dancing.
  • You can do this in the way that works best for your facility.
    • For example, you could check the COVID status of people using this venue at any time, to ensure that any who remain after 1am are permitted attendees. Or you could check all guests in the area immediately before 1am to ensure that only fully vaccinated people remain after 1am, and continue to check the COVID status of everyone arriving from 1am.
    • Whichever option is chosen, you must make sure you’ve taken reasonable steps to check the COVID status of all attendees (aged 18 and over) in the venue between the hours of 1am and 5am, even if they entered the venue or event before 1am.

You are also strongly advised to check the COVID status of workers (aged 18 and over) and people providing services who are in customer-facing roles.

Read the guidance on mandatory COVID status checks for more information on what you need to do. You can find further advice for nightclubs in the guidance for restaurants, pubs, bars, nightclubs and takeaway services.

When this does not apply

COVID status checks may not be required in these venues in some circumstances:

  • If you are holding an exempt event (such as a wedding or civil partnership reception) or for certain exempt activities (such as a dance or exercise class, or an amateur or professional dance performance), COVID status checks are not required for these events and activities. They may be required if other events or non-exempt activities are taking place at the same venue or event.
  • There are some situations where nightclubs, dance halls, discotheques and other late-night dance venues do not have to use the NHS COVID Pass. These are:
    • If one of these venues holds an outdoor event, and there are fewer than 4,000 attendees at any one time.
    • If a nightclub, dance hall or discotheque closes their dancefloor or does not provide music, COVID status checks are not automatically required.
    • For other late night venues, COVID status checks are not automatically required if the venue does one or more of the following: closes between 1am and 5am, does not serve alcohol after 1am, closes their dancefloor, or stops providing music.

Read the guidance on mandatory COVID status checks for more information on what you need to do.

If your event takes place at a restaurant, bar or other hospitality venue

COVID status checks are not required at hospitality venues (such as restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars), unless they meet the conditions for a late-night venue (see nightclubs and late night venues, above), or they host an event which requires COVID status checks (see events in other venues, below). There are additional criteria for events in hospitality venues.

COVID status checks may be required in a hospitality venue if:

1. Someone rents out the venue (or part of the venue) to host the event.
or
2. The hospitality venue hosts the event and it is ticketed or people must pay to enter.

If you are hosting an event at a hospitality venue and it is ticketed or paid for, or you are renting out the venue (or part of the venue) to host the event, COVID status checks would apply if your event meets the criteria for events in any setting. Check if the event meets the criteria for COVID status checks.

If your event takes place in a private dwelling, or a public outdoor place

COVID status checks are generally not required for events in:

  • private dwellings (someone’s house)
  • public outdoor places

COVID status checks would only be required if an event is ticketed or people pay to enter.

If you are hosting an event in a private dwelling or public outdoor place, and it is ticketed or people pay to enter, COVID status checks would apply if your event meets the criteria for events in any setting. Check if the event meets the criteria for COVID status checks.

Venues where COVID status checks should not be used

There are some settings where COVID status checks should not be used as a condition of entry, so that everyone can access them.

You should not require attendees to prove their COVID-19 status if your venue or event includes essential services such as hospitals or pharmacies and essential retailers such as supermarkets.

COVID status checks should not be required in public transport hubs and services. However this does not apply to leisure transport, such as an event on a privately operated or hired boat. COVID status checks would apply if your event meets the criteria for events in any setting. Operators and organisers of events on leisure transport services should check if COVID status checks are required.

Education and schools

Schools, Further Education providers and Higher Education providers should not use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry for education or related activities such as exams or teaching, or extra-curricular activities, or any other day-to-day activities that are part of education or training. Read the guidance for schools and educational sites.

They would be required to use the NHS COVID Pass, if they are holding a specific event (such as a reception, concert or party) that meets the attendance thresholds. If an event is being held at a school, Further Education or Higher Education site, the guidance on mandatory COVID status checks for events should be followed. Check if the event meets the criteria for COVID status checks. Under 18s do not have to show their COVID-19 status but should be counted towards attendance thresholds.

How to check people’s COVID status at your venue or event

If COVID status checks are required at your venue or event, you must check the COVID status of your customers, attendees and other visitors. You can only admit people who are fully vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID-19 in the last 48 hours (or are exempt from these requirements for medical reasons). You are also strongly advised to check that workers (aged 18 and over) in customer-facing roles meet these requirements.

Where possible, you should always use the NHS COVID Pass Verifier App to check whether people are fully vaccinated (or exempt) and registered test results. If the Verifier App cannot be used (for example, for international vaccination certificates) or if you do not wish to use the Verifier App, you must conduct manual checks.

If COVID status checks are not legally required

You can choose to check people’s COVID status on a voluntary basis, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading at your facility or event.

If you want to do this, you should clearly communicate this to your workers, and to people who will come to your facility in advance of their visit (and in advance of ticket sales, where possible), and explain what kind of evidence they will need to provide.

You should not require attendees to prove their COVID-19 status if your venue or event includes essential services such as hospitals or pharmacies, essential retailers such as supermarkets or public transport services. Read the section on venues where COVID status checks should not be used for more information.

What you should do

Check who is responsible for enforcing COVID status checks at your venue or event.

  • A venue or event’s ‘responsible person’ is responsible for making sure that the rules on COVID status checks are followed and organisations meet their legal responsibilities.
  • If you are the responsible person for a venue or event, you must take reasonable measures to ensure that only attendees with the accepted forms of evidence that they are fully vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID-19 in the previous 48 hours enter your venue or event (or are otherwise exempt).
  • In a nightclub, dance hall, or discotheque, or other late night venue open after 1am with alcohol, music and dancing, the responsible person is the venue manager.
  • In an indoor or outdoor sport stadium, conference centre or exhibition hall, live music venue, theatre or concert hall, which is holding events which meet the relevant thresholds, the responsible person is the venue manager.
  • In other venues which are holding events which meet the relevant thresholds, the responsible person is the event organiser.
  • If you are hiring out your venue for an event, you should discuss COVID status checks with the event organiser. If there is no event organiser, compliance with mandatory proof of vaccination or test requirements is the responsibility of the manager of the premises where the event is held.

Make sure customers know what to expect when they visit your venue or event.

  • Make sure customers are informed that they will need to show their NHS COVID Pass (or other proof, such as an accepted vaccination certificate or a valid test result from NHS Test and Trace) in order to enter your venue or event.
  • Communicate the requirements clearly to customers in advance of their visit, so they know what they need to do and will be able to provide the evidence they need.
    • For example, by including this information on your website, in booking conditions and on tickets, and informing people who make enquiries or bookings over the phone. Where possible, tell them before they make a booking or payment.
    • You can also include this information on your website and in your digital marketing.

Check that attendees aged 18 and over are fully vaccinated, have tested negative for COVID-19 in the previous 48 hours, or are exempt from these requirements, before they enter your venue or event.

  • You can check this using their NHS COVID Pass or accepted equivalent COVID status proof from some other countries.
    • People can also show other forms of evidence, such as a valid text or email from NHS Test and Trace confirming a negative COVID-19 result from a PCR or lateral flow test taken within the previous 48 hours.
    • People who were vaccinated overseas can show other vaccination certificates (such as the EU Digital COVID certificate), provided they are accepted at the UK border.
    • See more information below on how to check that evidence (such as an NHS COVID Pass) is valid.
  • Some attendees will be exempt from vaccination or testing, for example because they are participating in a clinical trial, or because they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. You are still required to check their COVID status, by asking for evidence that they are exempt.
    • You must not allow people to self-declare that they are medically exempt. They must provide evidence that they are medically exempt or participating in a clinical trial.
    • This can be checked by scanning their NHS COVID Pass.
    • You can also accept alternative proof that they are exempt, such as an MAT B1 certificate for somebody who is pregnant, or a letter confirming that they are part of an approved clinical trial in the UK or USA and should be recognised as fully vaccinated.
    • Read the guidance on mandatory COVID status checks and the guidance on using the NHS COVID Pass for information on evidence for exemptions.
  • The NHS COVID Pass no longer gives details of natural immunity for entering certain venues and events. Proof of natural immunity cannot be accepted as an alternative to proof of vaccination or a recent test.

Do not admit attendees and visitors who cannot provide evidence that they meet the COVID status check requirements.

  • If an attendee (aged 18 or over) can’t produce adequate proof of their COVID status (a valid NHS COVID Pass, an accepted certificate showing they are fully vaccinated, a negative COVID-19 test taken in the previous 48 hours, or proof that they are exempt) you must not admit them to your event or venue.
  • If you become aware that an adult attendee has entered your event without showing this proof, your security or other staff should ask them to leave the event, to protect your staff and customers.

In some circumstances, venues or events can do spot checks of some people’s COVID status, rather than checking every attendee and worker.

  • Spot checks can only be used for some kinds of events, where it is not feasible to check proof of COVID status for every attendee without risks to people’s safety.
  • A proposal for spot checks must be submitted at least 10 working days in advance of the event, and approved by the relevant local authority.
    • For events held before 31 December, the responsible person must submit an application to the relevant local authority as soon as practicable. Provided your event meets the criteria for spot checks and you have submitted your risk assessment, spot checks can be used. There is no need for local authority assessment or approval to be received.
  • See the section below on managing COVID status checks for more information on applying for spot checks, if this applies to your event.
  • Read the guidance on mandatory COVID status checks for more information.

It is also strongly advised that you check the COVID status of customer-facing workers at your venue or event.

  • In venues and events where COVID status checks are required for attendees, it is recommended that you also check that your workers (aged 18 and over) are fully vaccinated, have tested negative in the past 48 hours, or are exempt from these requirements (for example, because they are participating in a clinical trial, or because they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons).
    • You should think about how this will affect your staff (particularly workers with protected characteristics, or who are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19), and talk to your workers and trade union representatives.
  • This is recommended for workers (employees, other workers such as contractors and volunteers, and people providing services for your event) aged 18 and over who are in customer-facing roles. This means workers who are likely to come into contact with the public at any point.
    • For example, you may not think it is necessary to check the COVID status of a worker who is the chef at an event and will not be in areas open to the public, or a cleaner who only works at a nightclub or event venue when it is closed to the public.
  • If you choose to ask your workers for evidence of their COVID status, workers can provide the same evidence as customers, such as an NHS COVID Pass or a valid text or email from NHS Test and Trace.
    • If a worker shows evidence that they are fully vaccinated, you should only check this the first time they enter the venue, not each time they attend work.
    • If a worker (aged 18 and over) in a customer-facing role is not fully vaccinated (or exempt), you may want to ask them to complete regular lateral flow tests. Read the guidance on mandatory COVID status checks for more information on how to coordinate a test site, and how you should advise workers to take tests.
  • If you choose to ask your workers for evidence of their COVID status, remember that some workers may be exempt from vaccination or testing, because they are participating in a clinical trial, or because they cannot be vaccinated or take tests for medical reasons.
    • If you choose to ask workers for evidence of their COVID status, you can ask workers who are exempt from vaccination or testing for evidence that they are exempt. However, remember that this is private health information and should not be shared. If you want to record that you have checked their COVID status (for your own records), you should record that you have checked that they are exempt, but you should not record the reasons for a worker’s exemption.
    • Read the guidance on guidance on mandatory COVID status checks for information on exemptions.

Some people attending your venue are exempt from providing evidence of their COVID status, but may need to provide evidence that they are exempt.

  • People who are under 18 are exempt from this requirement and do not need to show their NHS COVID Pass to enter. You should not ask for proof of age or vaccination status from people under 18.
  • People who are participating in sporting events are not required to show evidence of their COVID status to attend your event or venue. You should ask them for evidence that they are exempt from this requirement (i.e. evidence that they are participating in the sport or fitness-related activity) but not for evidence of their COVID status.
  • Some people (such as visitors providing services to your venue) may be exempt because of the work they do. If a visitor is exempt because of their work (such as an inspector conducting their official duties, or emergency service responders) you can check their official ID to verify this.
  • Read the guidance on mandatory COVID status checks for more information on people who are exempt.

If you do not check attendees’ COVID status (or follow the other requirements):

  • If it applies to your venue or event, you are legally required to check attendees’ COVID status.
    • If you do not meet these requirements, local authorities can place restrictions on your business. This could mean limiting the number of people who can attend an event, or closing all or part of your business, venue or event.
    • If you break the law, enforcement action can be taken against you. You can be prosecuted or a fixed penalty notice can be issued.
  • In certain circumstances (such as emergencies), people can be admitted without showing their COVID status. However, this is only permitted where it is necessary to avoid injury or escape a risk of harm (for example to address a medical emergency).

How to verify COVID status evidence (such as an NHS COVID Pass)

Where COVID status checks are required, attendees must provide evidence that they are fully vaccinated, have proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken in the previous 48 hours, or have proof that they are exempt from vaccination or testing.

Wherever possible, you should use the free NHS COVID Pass Verifier App to check people’s COVID status, as this is the most secure way to check people’s COVID status and reduces the possibility of fraud. The Verifier App can be used to check NHS COVID Passes and a broad range of international COVID status evidence. Where the Verifier app cannot be used (for example, if people do not have the NHS COVID Pass) or you choose not to use the Verifier App, you must conduct manual checks.

NHS COVID Pass Verifier App

You can use the free NHS COVID Pass Verifier App to scan and verify people’s NHS COVID Passes and make sure they are valid. The Verifier App can also be used to check equivalent passes from the rest of the UK (and Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, and British Overseas Territories), and the EU Digital COVID Certificates (used by the EU and other countries which are part of this scheme, such as Norway, Israel, Singapore and New Zealand).

The Verifier app can scan the 2D barcode displayed on a phone or tablet, or a printed copy of their PDF. To prevent fraud, you should check that the identity of the user shown on the NHS COVID Pass matches other forms of identification (such as the name on their ticket or ID like a driving licence).

Using the Verifier app means you are processing personal data, so you must make sure this is handled carefully and in line with data protection legislation.

Read the guidance on mandatory COVID status checks and the guidance on the NHS COVID Pass Verifier App for more information on how to use the Verifier App, and data protection requirements.

Manual checks

Where the Verifier app cannot be used (for example, if people do not have the NHS COVID Pass) or you choose not to use the Verifier App, you must conduct manual checks.

To manually check an NHS COVID Pass (or the equivalent accepted Passes), you should check that:

  • the COVID status evidence meets the criteria (for example, showing that they are fully vaccinated, have a valid negative test from the previous 48 hours, or are exempt). Proof of natural immunity cannot be accepted.
  • the expiry date has not passed.
  • there is a ‘shimmer’ animation, to confirm it is the real NHS COVID Pass and not a screenshot of someone else’s app (note that the shimmer animation will not show up if someone has saved the COVID Pass into their Google or Apple wallet, which is permitted).

To check a negative test result which is not on an accepted COVID Pass, you should check that the person has a valid text or email from NHS Test and Trace. A valid notification of a test result from NHS Test and Trace should include:

  • their name
  • their age or date of birth
  • the date the test sample was collected or received by the test provider
  • confirmation that the test was either a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or a lateral flow test
  • confirmation that the result of the test was negative

The Verifier App cannot be used for the following types of evidence, which must be checked manually.

  • The 1D barcode on a letter from a GP.
  • Certificates confirming clinical trial participation or medical exemptions.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cards (for visitors from the USA).
  • Other vaccination certificates and evidence (for other international visitors), which is accepted at the UK border. For more information, read the guidance on approved COVID-19 vaccines and countries with approved proof of vaccination.

Read the guidance on mandatory COVID status checks and the guidance on the NHS COVID Pass Verifier App for more information on how to use the Verifier App, and data protection requirements.

Managing COVID status checks at your venue or event

If you are required to check people’s COVID status at your venue or event, make sure you include this in your planning so that it can be managed safely.

Think about how to manage your attendees to reduce crowding, especially if you are holding a large event.

  • Checking your attendees’ COVID status may add to the time it takes for attendees to enter your venue. Think about how you can reduce the time needed for this, by using the NHS COVID Pass Verifier App to scan people’s COVID Passes, and only using manual inspections where this is not possible.
  • Think about this as part of your crowd management planning, and take extra steps to reduce the risk of crowds. For example, you could:
    • Advise customers to arrive earlier, if it is likely to take longer than usual to enter the venue.
    • Set up queueing systems and staggering arrival and departure times.
    • Set up COVID status check points away from entry points to reduce congestion. Read the section on crowd management for more information.
  • Make sure attendees are aware of the requirements, and remind them to have their NHS COVID Pass (or other evidence) ready before they get to the checkpoint. For example, by displaying signs or asking venue staff to remind them.

In some circumstances, venues or events can do spot checks of some people’s COVID status, rather than checking every attendee and worker.

  • Spot checks can only be used for some kinds of events, where it is not feasible to check proof of COVID status for every attendee without risks to people’s safety.
  • Spot checks may be used at events which require COVID status checks (indoor event with 500 or more attendees expected to stand or move around; outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees expected to stand or move around; and any event with more than 10,000 attendees).
    • Nightclubs, dance halls and discotheques and other late night dance venues cannot use spot checks. They must check every attendee’s COVID status, where this is required.
  • Spot checks can only be used in limited circumstances, where:
    • the majority of attendees are expected to arrive at the same time;
    • it is not possible to set up checkpoints away from the entry points, and checking every attendee would lead to a crowd gathering outside the venue or event; and
    • the crowd would be a risk to the safety of the crowd (or other people), or provide a potential target for terrorist action.
  • If your event meets these conditions, you may be able to use spot checks of attendees’ COVID status. However, you must agree this in advance with your local authority. This is the law.
  • You must assess the risks and determine the maximum percentage of checks that can safely be carried out, and submit this risk assessment to your local authority at least 10 working days in advance of the event.
    • Your risk assessment should take into account the safety and security risks that 100% checks would cause to your attendees and to others (for example, where crowds may impact people in the local area or cause public order concerns, or cause a potential terrorism risk).
    • It must also take into account any government guidance which is relevant to your event, such as this guidance or guidance specific to your venue (such as the guidance for hotels and guest accommodation or hospitality venues).
  • The local authority can approve your plans or ask for reasonable alterations to be made to your proposal. They may also reject the proposal, which would mean you cannot do spot checks and must check every attendees’ COVID status (if this is not possible, the event must not go ahead).
    • If the local authority does not reply, or replies less than 5 working days before the date of planned admission, the risk assessment is considered to be approved and spot checks can be used at the event in the way your proposal set out.

Events held before 31 December 2021

For events held before 31 December, it may not be feasible to submit the risk assessment 10 working days in advance of the event, but it must be submitted as soon as practicable before the event.

Provided your event meets the criteria for spot checks and you have submitted your risk assessment, spot checks can be used. There is no need for local authority assessment or approval to be received.

You must keep a record of how you are meeting the requirement to check attendees’ COVID status.

  • If you need to do COVID status checks at your event or venue, you must produce a ‘policy statement’ setting out how you will check your attendees’ COVID status.
    • This statement should include what you will do to meet the requirements, and how you are making sure people are aware of your actions and what they need to do.
    • If you have agreed with your local authority that you can do spot checks for an event, this statement should also explain the reasons why you have to use a spot check approach and can’t check all attendees.
    • You must keep a record of your policy statement for as long as COVID status checks are a legal requirement, and for 3 months after the date or event to which they refer.
  • You must also keep records of events or times at your venue when COVID status checks were required. This includes things like the date, the number of attendees, and whether you did anything differently to your planned approach (such as admitting people without checks, for example in an emergency), why you needed to do something different, and what you did instead.
    • If you have agreed with your local authority that you can do spot checks for an event, your records should include the number of times you needed to do spot checks instead of checking all attendees, and the number of people who were admitted to the venue when you were doing spot checks instead of checking all attendees.
    • You must keep these records updated with information about all relevant events.
    • You must keep these records for 3 months (or 3 months since the date of the event) in case they are requested by your local authority.
  • If you are holding an event in a venue big enough to require COVID status checks, but the number of attendees is below the threshold, you may also need to produce a statement to explain how you will make sure that COVID status checks are not required.
    • For example, if you are holding an indoor event at a venue which has an indoor capacity for 1,000 people, but you expect that your event will only have 400 attendees (and certification will not be required for this reason), your statement should explain how you will keep the number of attendees below 500, to make sure that COVID status checks are not required.
  • Local authorities can request that you provide these records or policy statements within 3 working days, or as part of an inspection. You must provide these records if they are requested.

Make sure data is kept securely and in line with data protection regulations.

  • You must not retain information from within the NHS COVID Pass, such as an individual’s name or COVID status.
  • If you keep records of staff which include their names (or other things that can identify them) you must make sure these are handled securely and in line with data protection regulations (for example, making sure the data is kept confidential). Read more about keeping data secure in the guidance on mandatory COVID status checks.

Managing large events

If you are holding events or large gatherings, you should take extra precautions to manage guests and reduce the risk of crowding.

Research has found that there are some factors which increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission at events. This includes events which:

  • take place indoors
  • take place outdoors, but also have indoor spaces
  • include congested areas
  • involve free movement between people
  • include crowd density
  • have a large number of attendees

If your event or venue has one or more of these risk factors, you should take extra care to reduce the risk of transmission, for example by putting in place crowd management measures if your event involves large numbers of attendees.

There are examples in the box below of the type of things you can do to manage crowds at your event. Not every option will be applicable or practical for every event and setting, so you should consider the options that will be most appropriate for your event. This may mean incorporating different measures for different areas and different time periods within the same venue, particularly for large events. For example, some measures such as queue management will be appropriate for external and hospitality areas, but other measures are likely to be more suitable around stages or performance areas.

You should consider the risks and measures relevant to your event through your risk assessment, and you can use the risk management template to help you to assess options and plan your event.

When considering any interventions, you should take into account the impact on people with protected characteristics, and the need for any reasonable adjustments. You should also take into account the impact of measures on people at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, who may require different support and interventions to other attendees.

Crowd management strategies

If your event involves large numbers of attendees, think about what you can do to reduce the risk of crowding. This is particularly important if large numbers of people may be moving at the same time, or there are congested areas in the venue (such as a limited number of entrances).

Crowd movement

  • When you are planning your event, think about ways you can reduce the risk of crowding. For example, you can:
    • Encourage attendees to purchase tickets in advance, and send them by post or electronically to avoid ticket collection queues.
    • Consider using timed ticketing (where attendees are asked to arrive at different times) if this is appropriate for your event.
  • Think about how to manage attendees outside venues, and reduce the need for crowding where possible. For example, you could:
    • Use as many entry and exit points as possible to reduce crowding, both outside and inside the venue. Use barriers to help people to queue near entrances, especially if you expect long queues.
    • Make sure that entrances and exits are clearly marked so that they are easy for attendees to find, and use venue staff to help to direct people to the right entrances if needed.
    • Using stewards or other staff to manage the flow of people can also help to reduce congestion by people who are blocking entrances, or by people who are not attending the event.
    • If there are multiple checks when people enter your event or venue (e.g. tickets are checked in two or three locations), think about staggering these checking processes to ensure some checkpoints don’t get too crowded.
    • If you are holding a very large event, think about whether you need additional space or resources. You may need to talk to local authorities and other partners about closing pavements, highways and other public spaces around your venue, if this is necessary so that people can arrive at and leave your venue safely. See the section on working with partners for more information on working with local authorities.
  • Think about the flow of customers in the venue, and how you can manage crowding.
    • Review your event and venue plans and think about how customers will move through the event. Think about how you can use communications (such as signs, video screens and PA/audio announcements) to provide additional information to attendees and to reinforce crowd movement messaging.
    • Think about the higher-risk areas where crowds are likely to form, such as concession stands/bars, toilets, turnstiles, lifts, corridors, walkways and entry/exit points and at standing performances. For example, you can use one-way systems to reduce congestion, with clear markings and signage.
    • Make sure you have enough staff to manage the number of attendees you expect at your event, and think about how you can use venue staff to help manage the crowd.

Stewarding/licensed door supervision

  • You can use stewards, ushers or licensed door supervisors (‘bouncers’) to manage attendees and reduce the risk of crowding (e.g. by slowing the flow of people when entrance areas are too crowded). Make sure they are aware of any rules that attendees must follow (such as showing their NHS COVID Pass or wearing a face covering in indoor areas), and have enough information to explain the rules to attendees.
  • Think about the areas where these workers can reduce risk at your event or venue. Extra stewarding may be helpful at entrances to the venue, at ‘pinch-points’ where queues will normally form, and around seating areas (e.g. to make sure people are directed to the right area or seat).
  • Take into account any risks to stewards and other staff, and think about ways these can be reduced. Stewards, licensed door supervisors and other staff and volunteers face the same risks as attendees. Use your risk register to think about what you can do to reduce these risks. For example, if some workers can supervise crowds from a fixed position behind a barrier rather than being in close contact with large numbers of attendees.

Zoning

  • If you have a large venue, think about dividing the venue into zones so that attendees can be managed in smaller groups to reduce mixing. For example, if you have a seated event, you can ask attendees to use different entrances and exits depending on which zone their seat is in.
  • You can use floor markings or temporary barriers to help to control the flow and numbers of attendees in each zone. For example, each group of attendees could use separate turnstiles, stairwells, bars, toilets and seating areas within a stadium.
  • You can also use things like coloured wristbands to help manage larger venues or events. This can help to control which areas attendees should or should not use, and help stewards or licensed door supervisors to manage attendees and reduce the risk of overcrowding or security issues.

Working with partners

Local authorities

  • Local authorities have an important role in ensuring that events are able to go ahead as safely as possible in their area. They work with the Health and Safety Executive to ensure that businesses operate safely.
  • Local authorities also have temporary powers to help them to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic. This means they can place restrictions on a business if there is a serious and imminent threat to public health because of COVID-19. This could mean limiting the number of people who can attend an event, changing the way a venue operates to reduce the risk of transmission or prohibiting an event from happening.
    • These powers can only be used where they are necessary to protect public health. The measures imposed by the local authority must be a proportionate way to secure that protection. They cannot be used to place blanket restrictions on types of events or venues.
    • Event organisers are strongly encouraged to factor early engagement with the relevant local authority into the event planning process to ensure any issues can be identified and resolved without delay.
    • There is more detail on local authority enforcement powers and decision-making in the box below.

Transport operators

  • If you are organising a large event, or one which is likely to have an impact on transport networks (such as large groups arriving in small stations at the same time), you should work with transport operators to manage the impact of your event on the networks, and ensure the event can run as safely as possible.
  • You should engage with local transport authorities as early as possible in the event planning process, and work closely with them and local authorities to reduce pressure on the local transport network where large and/or multiple events are taking place in their local area.
  • You should consider using the travel demand management toolkit to identify potential issues and develop a transport management plan, particularly to manage crowds near transport hubs and routes to and from the venue.
  • You should also provide clear communications to your attendees of any relevant travel guidance, or advice on how to travel safely to your event.

Safety Advisory Groups

  • Local authorities can consider convening a Safety Advisory Group (SAG) to bring together representatives from relevant groups who can advise on public safety at events. SAGs can advise on planning and managing events and will encourage cooperation and coordination between the relevant groups.
  • A SAG should include representatives from the local authority, emergency services, the local Director of Public Health (or a representative) and any other relevant partners, such as transport operators.
  • If a SAG is not convened, local authorities should engage public health colleagues at the earliest opportunity to ensure they are aware of any relevant public health information.

Sports ground safety (elite sport events)

  • Elite sport event organisers should refer to the Sports Ground Safety Authority’s Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds (the ‘Green Guide’). This is UK government-authorised guidance on spectator safety at sports grounds. It is specifically applicable to all sports grounds which are designated by the UK government Secretary of State, but also provides best practice guidance more broadly across all sport competition venues.

Local authorities powers to prohibit or restrict events

Local authorities have temporary powers to help them to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic, under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 3) Regulations 2020.

This means they can place restrictions on a business if there is a serious and imminent threat to public health because of COVID-19. This could mean limiting the number of people who can attend an event, changing the way a venue operates to reduce the risk of transmission or prohibiting an event from happening.

These powers can only be used where they are necessary to protect public health. The measures imposed by the local authority must be a proportionate way to secure that protection. They cannot be used to place blanket restrictions on types of events or venues.

Where there are concerns about the safety of an event, local authorities should engage with the event organiser to resolve any issues at the earliest opportunity.

Issuing directions to prohibit or restrict an event

Local authority decisions on events should be made on a case-by-case basis, in line with the guidance on local authority powers to impose restrictions. Any direction issued under the No. 3 Regulations must be notified to the government, which will consider whether its issue was appropriate. Government has the power, in appropriate circumstances, to direct a local authority to revoke a direction.

Any direction issued must meet the three legal conditions:

  • it is responding to a serious and imminent threat to public health;
  • it is necessary to prevent, protect against, control or provide a public health response in relation to the incidence or spread of COVID-19; and
  • the measures taken are a proportionate way to achieve that purpose.

Local authorities must consider any advice from their Director of Public Health before issuing a direction, and need to review each direction at least once every seven days.

If an event organiser, the owner or occupier of the premises where the event is held or any other person involved in hosting the event goes against such a direction, they can be issued with a fixed penalty notice (FPN) by a police officer, police community support officer or other designated person.

See the guidance on local authority powers to impose restrictions for more information.

Risk management template

Event organisers may find using a checklist like the one below helpful when identifying risks and risk management options specific to their event or setting. Please note that a single event can include more than one risk factor, so you may need to refer to multiple rows.

You can download or print a blank template to refer to when you are planning your event(s).

You can also see an example of a completed risk management template for an indoor event with free movement of attendees and high crowd density, such as a large music event.