CAN VENUES RE-OPEN?
In a word YES (providing it is Covid -19 secure) – but not in a conference venue, exhibition centre or nightclub. What is a conference centre? Wikipedia, define conference centres, also called convention centres in the US, as venues typically capable of hosting several thousand delegates, see here. The broadest possible definition of a conference centre would be a space suitable for holding a conference, which, in turn, begs the question, what is a conference? Again, and as seems so typical of present times there is no definition. In a previous blog we looked into this closely, for us the clearest definition is that a conference is an event for approximately 75 or more attendees, while for a meeting the average is 14, see here
It seems clear, to us at Cavendish Venues, that the majority of venues can re-open subject to a number of conditions and this seems to be the consensus within the Events Industry i.e. etc venues, Spaceworks, Regus, Leonardo hotels, the Wallace Space and 30 Euston Square are all open. Conference News in a recent article seemed to suggest the same, see here
Where can these meetings/presentations and events be held?
Government guidance is that events of up to 30 can be held anywhere, apart from Conference and Exhibition Venues, Live Performance Venues, Nightclubs and a short list of other less relevant venues, which remain closed.
These restricted venues are beginning to open with Live Performance Venues operating limited pilots and Conference and Exhibition Venues being allowed to open for showcase purposes, effectively from August 1st. From 1st October Conference and Exhibition Venues are planned to be fully operational under COVID-19 safe guidelines.
It is open to interpretation if an iconic historic venue which hosts conferences is a “conference venue” or a “tourist attraction”, if a hotel with an exhibition suite is a “hotel” or an “exhibition venue”, if a late bar that hosts live music is a “nightclub” or a “live performance venue”. Or indeed if all of the above are instead “event venues”. This is largely left to the interpretation of the venue and the organiser. We have laid out our interpretation above.
All this reinforces the importance of having a risk assessment and, ideally, independent safety accreditation in place. There are a number of such accreditations, here is a link to a few run by the likes of the Meetings Industry Association and the HBAA.
WHAT TYPES OF EVENTS CAN BE HELD NOW?
According to the Coronavirus Regulations 2020, certain events can happen in one of two ways:
Events of any size:
Events of any size are permitted if the gathering is “reasonably necessary” for work purposes. If it’s happening because it’s “reasonably necessary” it doesn’t necessarily have to abide with government guidelines and no risk assessment is required by law.
There is no precedent on what “reasonably necessary” means. Basically, organisers are left to take their own decision re this. I suspect many venues will be led by the organisers in this respect.
Events for up to 30.
Events can also happen if the gathering has been organised by a business, a charitable, or public body where the person responsible has carried out a risk assessment and taken all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus, see the attached links etc. For business events, the guidelines (although not the law) also give a limit of 30 people per event.
Organisers should be aware that current guidelines still refer to “social interactions should be limited to a group of no more than two households (indoors and out) or up to six people from different households (if outdoors).” In terms of the events industry this means that events can only really take place if they do not require close social interaction between attendees, i.e. a very interactive event might find it difficult to meet this requirement.
The government guidelines have also announced that from 1 August, small wedding receptions will be able to take place, including sit-down meals, for no more than 30 people, subject to COVID-19 Secure guidance. There is no legislation in place for this to become legal, although we expect this in the coming days.
Further, all non-“reasonably necessary” events must also follow a risk assessment and measures as such suggested by the various accreditation bodies see here
I should point out that we are not lawyers, we have spoken to some lawyers about this, they were clear, nobody is clear. We are grateful to hire spice who’s blog on a similar subject we used extensively.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 3) Regulations 2020, Section 5, Statutory Instrument No. 684, 4th July 2020
The Explanatory Note to The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 3) Regulations 2020, 4th July 2020
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 3) Regulations 2020, Statutory Instrument No. 750, 17th July 2020
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