Disclaimer: This information is accurate as of the date of publishing, but regulations may change as the situation develops.
With nearly two years of adapting to the changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic, many event creators are now used to delivering events in increasingly innovative ways. However, now that the majority of restrictions have been lifted, in-person events have returned.
To help keep you informed, we’ve put together this round-up of the latest event rules and regulations in the UK and Ireland, as well as the most interesting events industry news.
Let’s start with the good news
- The booster vaccination programme has been accelerated in the UK in response to the new Omicron variant. More than 49 million booster jabs have been administered so far, and all adults over the age of 18 in England have been invited to book a COVID-19 booster. Those 12 and over have also been able to get vaccinated, with 9 in 10 people in the age group having been vaccinated with at least one dose as of 27th February. The vaccination programme in Ireland is going well, too, with more than 2.8 million booster vaccinations administered.
- On 21 December, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced additional economic support to help businesses in the leisure and hospitality sector that have been most impacted by the Omicron variant. Businesses like pubs and restaurants will be able to apply for cash grants of up to £6,000 per premises.
- After months of campaigning by industry bodies, the UK government’s £750 million insurance scheme for event creators has begun. The Live Events Reinsurance Scheme covers the costs incurred when an event has to be cancelled or postponed due to new government restrictions. It doesn’t cover loss of revenue from lower ticket demand or venue capacity, or from social isolation of staff or performers. The cover can be purchased now, with the overall scheme running until 30 September 2022.
- It’s encouraging news for Scottish creators, too, as Scotland’s Events Recovery Fund of £2.75 million has been topped up by an additional £450,000 to support 275 events across the country.
COVID-19 regulations in the UK and Ireland – and what they mean
Currently, the four nations of the UK are working towards their own roadmaps out of lockdown, which are based on data, rather than set dates.
On 21 February, the Government published its plan for living with COVID-19, which provides comprehensive guidance going forward. Some of the most important highlights are that from 1 April, the Government will:
- No longer recommend that certain venues use the NHS COVID Pass (vaccine passports for entry into nightclubs and other large venues have not been required since 27 January).
- No longer provide free universal symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public in England.
- Consolidate guidance to the public and businesses, in line with public health advice.
- Remove the health and safety requirement for every employer to explicitly consider COVID-19 in their risk assessments.
- Replace the existing set of ‘Working Safely’ guidance with new public health guidance.
From 24 February, workers were not legally obliged to tell their employers when they are required to self-isolate.
Wearing a face covering hasn’t been mandatory since 27 January 2022. However, it’s recommended that masks continue to be worn in crowded and indoor spaces where there’s likely to be mixing/contact between people who don’t normally meet.
As always, these new guidelines are subject to change.
On 21 March, most legal coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, including those on wearing face coverings, ended in Scotland. The devolved Government has published further information on its plans to ease restrictions and manage and recover from the pandemic in ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): staying safe and protecting others’.
As of 24 January, there have been no limits on how many households can meet indoors or outdoors. There is no need for physical distancing between groups at indoor and outdoor venues including bars, restaurants, theatres, cinemas, and gyms.
Restrictions on indoor events were lifted on 24 January, while outdoor events were allowed to run at full capacity from 17 January.
Wales moved down to alert level 0 on 28 January. This means there are now no limits on how many people can meet indoors or outdoors at pubs, restaurants, cinemas and theatres. There is no requirement for table service in hospitality venues or 2-metre social distancing.
If the current public health situation remains stable, all remaining restrictions will be removed on 28 March.
Nightclubs also reopened on 28 January for the first time since 26 December 2021. It has not been necessary to show a COVID Pass for entry to all venues and events since 18 February.
Face coverings have not been a legal requirement except in shops, health and care settings, and on public transport since 28 February.
Face coverings have not been required in public places since 15 February and the limit on the number of people who can meet indoors in private homes was lifted. It is also no longer legally required to show a COVID-19 certificate for entry to nightclubs and large indoor events.
Organisers of large indoor gatherings at places like pubs, restaurants, cinemas and theatres need to carry out a risk assessment unless there are fewer than 15 people in attendance.
It’s important that indoor spaces are well ventilated at all times and frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned regularly. Where possible, social distancing should be maintained, as well as good hand and respiratory hygiene practices.
On 22 January, most restrictions were lifted, including the 8pm curfew introduced to hospitality venues in Ireland.
This included cinemas, theatres, hotel restaurants, and bars. Nightclubs also reopened.
Also from 22 January, the capacity restrictions will be removed for both indoor events (inclusive of weddings) and outdoor events, including sporting fixtures.
Face masks are no longer mandatory as of 28 February. However, they are still advised on public transport and in healthcare settings.
The requirement to show a valid Digital COVID Certificate on entry has also been lifted for all domestic venues/activities.
Managing COVID-19 restrictions
As restrictions continue to ease, many venues and creators are bringing back live events with additional health and safety measures in place. Use the following for inspiration:
- The organiser of the Great British Vintage Tea Dance for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee has asked attendees to adhere to some COVID measures, including wearing masks when queuing to enter the venue and presenting either an NHS COVID-19 Pass or proof of a negative test.
- Kilogarm has provided plenty of COVID-19 information on its pop-up listings to put attendees at ease. The event pages state that hand sanitiser will be available upon entry and face coverings must be worn. Customers are advised to stay two metres apart while at the event and high contact areas will be cleaned throughout the day.
Inspiration and further reading
With the UK and Ireland almost at the end of their lockdown exit strategies, you’ll probably be itching to start in-person event planning once again. The Eventbrite blog is packed with tips and resources to help you navigate the return to in-person events. There’s also plenty of content to help you get to grips with topics such as livestreaming and hybrid events. Here are some of our latest posts:
For more help with staging events in the current climate, check out our COVID-19 resources for event creators.