Local authorities can allow or prohibit organised events from taking place in their local area but have been told by the Government that they must act reasonably and may not put blanket bans on events taking place in their areas.
Details of the requirements have been outlined in updated events guidance issued by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
It said decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis, with consideration given to both the risks and the mitigations in place as well as the economic and social benefits that events offer to local communities. Local authorities should not issue blanket bans on permitted events, and should assess each event in discussion with the organiser based on the Covid-secure guidance and relevant government restrictions in place at the time. Any objections to a particular event by a local authority should be based on clear evidence that points to inadequate alignment with guidance or government restrictions, or to the absence of a comprehensive risk assessment.
Event organisers should make it clear to local authorities whether their particular event contains any elements of a business event, sporting event, or live performance or show that would make it subject to a capacity cap. Event organisers may be able to remove a particular element of the event to allow it to proceed without a cap on numbers.
What guidance should Local Authorities follow?
In deciding whether an event is permitted, local authorities should also consider factors such as:
- Is there a risk to local population health, taking into account local trends in the prevalence of coronavirus?
- Is the event permitted at the relevant Step of the Roadmap?
- Is it an event that is subject to restrictions: a business event, elite sporting event, fundraising event or live performance?
- Has the event organiser carried out a comprehensive risk assessment?
- Has the event organiser taken into account the relevant Covid-secure guidance?
- Can/will all mitigations be operated effectively?
- What will be the impact on the local area and other adjacent areas?
- Has the event organiser engaged appropriately with neighbouring businesses, transport operators and local police to assess and mitigate risks arising from pressure on local and public transport?
- Has the event organiser engaged appropriately with with local accommodation providers in the area in the event of overnight stays, including for event staff, workers and contractors
- Has the event organiser considered the impact of increased footfall on the surrounding area and infrastructure (for example, queue management and crowding outside of a venue)?
- Will attendees be primarily local, or will there be additional risk factors created by attracting a national or international audience for the event?
- Has the event organiser successfully run their event in line with COVID-secure guidance previously? This could be within the local authority area or successful events in other local authority areas.
Legal powers to stop events
Where an event poses a risk to public health or in the event of a local spike in coronavirus cases, local authorities can consider prohibiting, restricting or imposing conditions in respect of venues, events or outdoor public places using the powers available in The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 3) Regulations 2020. These powers should only be used if the event, venue or gathering in an outdoor public place poses a serious and imminent threat to public health that cannot be mitigated in conversation with the event organiser.
Any such decision must be both necessary and proportionate.