Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): events sector guidance

Guide for the events sector on safe re-opening during the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): events sector guidance
Assessing risk

Assessing risk

Information about involving the workforce in a risk based approach.

As a minimum we expect:

  • a risk-based approach to be followed to protect health and safety of employees and ensure the longer-term economic viability of the business
  • employees to be fully engaged in that process, through trade union or workforce representatives 

Joint working

This guidance has been developed in collaboration with industry and trade unions on the basis that both have essential roles to play in planning for restart. Protecting the health of employees has been at the heart of this joint approach which is fundamental to establishing shared confidence around the safety of returning to places of work and supporting a recovery in productivity.

We understand that the workforce in the events sector may not have a significant level of trade union membership in all areas. Where this is the case, event organisers should engage with workforce representatives in the way that they would engage with trade union representatives. There is Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance available on worker involvement.

Implementation phases 

Preparatory work for ensuring physical distancing and enhanced hygiene measures when planning for events can take place from Level 3 onwards.

Carrying out a robust risk assessment with full workforce involvement (of recognised trade union safety representatives or relevant employee safety representatives) will identify the practical measures that can be put in place to minimise the spread of the virus at a workplace level.

It is also important to make sure the risk assessment of the supply chain, land owner or venue operator (where relevant) are shared and understood, so their expectations can be met on site. This process should begin as early as possible.

The risk assessment should include a phased implementation timetable, structured broadly as follows:


Plans to re-open a workplace should be developed in consultation with the workforce and updated on an ongoing basis. That planning must be based around risk assessments and safe systems of work physical distancing, hand washing, and fair work principles and be designed to enable a restart that allows the business to trade while protecting employee health and wellbeing.  Further information about test and trace and self-isolation, and potential impact on workforce availability, are set out in the next section on workforce planning.


Physical distancing and hygiene measures require work to be carried out before a restart and should take into account anticipated access requirements of disabled visitors – for example screens, one-way systems, 1metre zones, including within staff canteenshand sanitisers etc. In terms of PPE, HPS Guidance for General (Non-Healthcare) Settings makes clear that this is only necessary if a risk assessment suggested there is a higher than normal level of contamination. PPE should not be used as an alternative to physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene. Where changes to processes are required, briefings and inductions into the new ways of working should take place. These all take time and require resourcing and commitment.


Experience confirms the value of trialling the new way of working before a fuller restart is attempted, so a limited-scale pilot to test systems, find weaknesses and make improvements before a fuller restart is recommended where practical. This might include running a smaller event than usual, or undertaking a broadcast-only or behind-closed-doors event. We would encourage event organisers to discuss good practice with others in the sector as events restart so that learning can be shared and processes improved.

Regular assessment

A risk assessment or adoption of mitigation measures should not be a one-off exercise, rather part of a regular and ongoing dialogue and feedback loop. Reviews of measures and risks should be frequent. The open and ongoing engagement between trade union or workforce representatives should enable adjustments to be made quickly and smoothly at the relevant stage, including potentially tightening workplace restrictions or reducing numbers onsite if the risk assessments indicate this is necessary.   

Outbreak management

Event organisers should suspect an outbreak if there is either:

  • two or more linked cases (confirmed or suspected) of COVID-19 in a setting within 14 days - where cross transmission has been identified


  • an increase in staff absence rates, in a setting, due to suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19

If an event organiser suspects a COVID-19 outbreak, they should immediately inform their local NHS board Health Protection Team (HPT). The organiser may be then contacted by them, as they may get information from NHS Test & Protect or other sources.

In the event of an outbreak:

  • continue to follow 'General Guidelines' to reduce risk, as detailed above
  • the local Health Protection Team will undertake a risk assessment and conduct a rapid investigation. They will advise on the most appropriate action to take.
  • staff who have had close contact with case(s) will be asked to self-isolate at home. In some cases, a larger number of other staff may be asked to self-isolate at home as a precautionary measure. Where settings are observing guidance on infection prevention and control, which will reduce risk of transmission, the local health protection team will take this into account in determining whether closure of the whole setting will be necessary.
  • depending on the risk assessment outcome, the Health Protection Team may establish an Incident Management Team (IMT) to help manage the situation
  • the Incident Management Team will lead the Public Health response and investigations, and work with the organiser to put appropriate interventions in place

To control an outbreak the Health Protection Team and Incident Management Team will work with the organiser to put appropriate interventions in place.

These will generally include ensuring that the preventive measures described in 'General guidelines to prevent spread of COVID-19' (detailed above) are fully implemented. Other measures may include:

  • cleaning in the setting: for cleaning and waste management, refer to guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings for maintaining hygiene
  • consider wider testing of affected population and staff
  • information: ensure that staff (and other relevant people) are aware of what has happened and the actions being taken
  • closure: may be done following advice from the Health Protection Team and Incident Management Team or the business may make their own decision on closure ahead of this advice as a precaution or for business continuity reasons

The Health Protection Team or Incident Management Team will declare when the outbreak is over.

Legionella testing

There is an increased risk of Legionnaire’s Disease when buildings have been out of use, or not running at full capacity. This is because water systems may become stagnant when not in use, increasing the risk of legionella within water supplies. Many public and office buildings have been closed during the COVID-19 crisis, making legionella a legitimate concern as lockdown restrictions are eased.

The Health and Safety Executive have published advice on the risk of Legionella in buildings which are closed or running with reduced occupancy during the COVID-19 crisis on the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland (REHIS) website.

Building owners or operators should undertake a health and safety check of buildings, and deep cleaning prior to reopening where necessary, to mitigate risks. Read more information on the HSE website.

Utilising expertise

Event organisers should ensure their health and safety professionals and representatives have the skills, training and knowledge to understand the risks associated with COVID-19. Responsible parties should review specific guidance such as on the Scottish Government website and NHS inform. Where companies and their workforce do not have access to these skills in-house, they should together explore external support options to put in place appropriate mitigation measures, for example through their trade association, health and safety consultancies or trade union health and safety representatives. All can help businesses to understand the risks associated with different activities and situations within individual companies and offer the support managers and workers may require. 

First published: 3 Dec 2020 Last updated: 20 Jul 2021 -