Covid-19: Events, performances and festivals

Latest Government announcement

On 22nd September the Government announced further national measures to address rising cases of coronavirus in England. Details about what you can and cannot do from 22nd September can be found here.

If you are planning an event please be aware that current government guidance is that mass gatherings should not take place during the Covid-19 pandemic. Any events, performances and festivals that do take place must follow the government's covid-secure advice. Hosting events for large numbers of people is particularly challenging at this time and risk assessments and event management plans must ensure social distancing and hygiene arrangements. The Council and Public Health England may prohibit events from taking place if there is a significant risk of transmission of infection.
Please take into consideration the possibility that your event could be prohibited at relatively short notice.

Hosting indoor and outdoor events

Restaurants, pubs and bars

For many restaurants, pubs and bars, providing entertainment such as recorded music, live sports broadcasts, quizzes, live musicians or comedians are an important part of your business. 

Venues may host socially distanced indoor and outdoor live performances, though we encourage performances to take place outdoors if possible. Venues should take account of the performing arts guidance in organising performances and include them in their risk assessments.

Steps that will normally be needed include:-

Determining the viability of entertainment and maximum audience numbers consistent with social distancing outside and within venues and other safety considerations.

Preventing entertainment, such as broadcasts, that is likely to encourage audience behaviours increasing transmission risk. For example, loud background music, communal dancing, group singing or chanting.

Reconfiguring indoor entertainment spaces to ensure customers are seated rather than standing. For example, repurposing dance floors for customer seating.

Encouraging use of online ticketing and online or contactless payments for entertainment where possible.

Communicating clearly to customers the arrangements for entertainment and clearly supervising with additional staff if appropriate.

Events in public outdoor spaces

At present is against the law for gatherings of more than 30 people to take place in private homes (including gardens and other outdoor spaces). However, businesses and venues following COVID-19 Secure guidelines can host larger groups. This is also the case for events in public outdoor spaces that are organised by businesses, charitable or political organisations, and public bodies, provided they take reasonable steps to mitigate the risk of transmission, in line with COVID-19 Secure guidance and including completion of a risk assessment. However, current government guidance is that mass gatherings should not take place during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Events Industry Forum has produced guidance for organisers of events during the Covid-19 pandemic. Social distancing and hygiene facilities are extremely important when large numbers of people are gathered in one place and organisers have a responsibility to manage visitor's behaviour.

Theatres, concert hall and cinemas

Theatres, concert halls and cinema should follow the government's performing arts Guidance.

The Performing Art guidance is likely to be relevant and should be considered in a wide range of circumstances including but not limited to: music production, film, advertising, television production, places of worship, outdoor events and festivals, indoor unseated music venues, bars and restaurants. Where relevant, it should be read alongside the specific guidance relevant to particular settings.

Performing arts - Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) - Guidance - GOV.UK

You should limit the number of audience members so that capacity is at a level that allows social distancing to be maintained. Venues will need to ensure that groups of up to 6 in the audience are kept separate from one another to ensure they do not mix and do not exceed the new legal limits. To note, groups from the same support bubble (i.e. one household or two linked households) may exceed six and therefore sit together.

Conference and exhibition centres: covid-secure business events for up to 30 people may take place.


Weddings and wedding receptions for no more than 15 people can take place, subject to COVID-19 Secure guidance.

Roadmap to the opening up of the economy

The Government has set out a roadmap to recovery, which gives  timescales for the opening up of the economy and the way forward in the coming months.

Face Coverings

In England, face coverings are now required by law to be worn in a wide range of settings including entertainment venues, shops, supermarkets, indoor transport hubs, indoor shopping centres, banks, building societies, post offices and on public transport. Please be mindful that there are valid exemptions for some individuals and groups to not wear a face covering in these settings.

People are also strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in any enclosed public space where there are people they do not normally meet.

An owner, proprietor or manager carrying out a business (or a person responsible for other premises) who contravenes the Regulations, without reasonable excuse, commits an offence. If appropriate, both local authorities and the government have powers to close venues, to restrict access to public outdoor spaces, or to cancel events.

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