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The Government has confirmed that venues and event operators who do not comply with mandatory Covid-19 status checks would be subject to enforcement action from local authorities, including prosecution or issue of a fixed penalty notice (FPN).

It has also specified that eventgoers who create, supply or use false evidence of their Covid-19 status can be prosecuted or fined up to £10,000. Government said higher penalties may apply under other legislation, for example the Fraud Act 2006.

It said the FPN for a venue or event organiser’s first offence would be £1,000 (if paid within 14 days of the date of the notice, this can be reduced to £500), £2,000 for a second offence, £4,000 for a third offence and £10,000 for the fourth and any subsequent offences.

The lengthy guidance for carrying out mandatory Covid-19 status checks at venues and events also lists event types where organisers are not required to use the NHS Covid Pass, even if the attendance thresholds are met. Among the exempt events are free-to-attend outdoor events in public spaces.

From Wednesday 15 December, and subject to parliamentary approval, the NHS Covid Pass on the NHS App will become mandatory for entry into unseated indoor events with 500 or more attendees, unseated outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees and any event with 10,000 or more attendees. People will be able to demonstrate proof of two vaccine doses via the app. Proof of a negative lateral flow test will also be accepted.

The Government said the NHS Covid Pass no longer provides details of natural immunity for entering certain venues and events, and that proof of natural immunity cannot be accepted as an alternative to proof of vaccination or a recent test.

It recommended venues and event operators use the NHS Covid Pass Verifier app to check the passes, and that it is necessary to ensure they are checked visually for an expiry date and a shimmer animation that confirms a pass is live and not screenshotted.

Event attendees showing proof of a negative PCR test or negative rapid lateral flow test taken within the past 48 hours must have reported their test result to NHS Test and Trace. They will then have received a text or email notification which should be checked as a condition of entry.

The Government stated that in some circumstances it would only be necessary to carry out “spot checks” for attendees’ Covid status, where it may not be “reasonably possible” for organisers  to carry out checks on all attendees where it is mandatory without endangering the safety of those attending the event or others.

Spot checks may be used in the following circumstances:

  1. The event is an indoor event with 500 or more attendees expected to stand or move around, an outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees expected to stand or move around, or any event with more than 10,000 attendees.
  2. The majority of attendees are expected to arrive for a fixed start time, where entrants are likely to all arrive in a short space of time.
  3. It is not possible to set up checkpoints away from the entry points, and carrying out a check on every person would lead to a crowd gathering outside the venue or event.
  4. That crowd would either present a risk to the safety of the persons in the crowd, or to any other person, or provide a potential target for terrorist action – read more information on hospitality security considerations.

The full guidelines are available here.