Planning an event
Whoever is making the application must provide the local authority with a description of the event, an event plan and risk assessment. This may be the responsibility of the event host (responsible for the management of the venue/premises) or the event planner in conjunction with the event host. If, for example, an event was to take place in an open space, the event planner should submits the application instead of the land owner.
Approval may be granted for a single event, or for all events of a particular type in that setting. For example, a theatre may apply to regularly host stage productions and may be granted approval for all similar events assuming the capacity or footprint of the premises does not fundamentally alter between different productions.
Sports events which may expect to regularly go above the limits identified in the protection levels table (e.g. professional football and rugby matches) may be able to run regular fixtures once risk assessments have been completed and agreed without recourse to the local authority each time. This could be up to the capacity identified by a physical distancing assessment but may be restricted if that is supported by the risk assessment. The local authority may also approve an application with conditions attached to that approval.
Other types of events
Where a setting is holding different types of event, for example conference centres, a risk assessment and event plan must be submitted to the local authority, seeking approval for whether that event can proceed and whether any conditions will be attached. Any approval granted would be valid for all similar events. This could include, entertainment (concerts), trade shows and corporate events.
If a setting plans to hold an event which is outwith its usual business and differs from the type of event for which they have been granted approval, a separate approval application must be made and approval received. This may be the case, for example if a sports stadium were to plan to host a concert, or an indoor market venue was putting on a live music act.
Please note that events may not take place in general hospitality areas, such as beer gardens, that are currently operating for the serving of food and drink and are subject to a 1 metre physical distancing exemption. Where a hospitality area of a venue is open during an event the 1m rule can apply, but it will be 2m elsewhere.
Applying to put on an event
An application must be made to the local authority for approval of the proposal to organise an event above the standard capacity limits. This must include a description of the event, including physical distancing capacities of the space or venue to be used, an event operating plan and a risk assessment for the event. Local authorities must have regard to the risk of the incidence and spread of coronavirus which may arise from the event. Local authorities may take decisions based on their existing practices, but may want to consider further criteria per the examples in Annex C.
The local authority should be provided with:
- date(s) of event, and indication of anticipated event scale: < Level 0 attendees or > Level 0 limits.
- Operating Plan and Risk Assessment of Event – this should include, but not be limited to: consideration of shared facilities; management of entry and exit from the building; anticipated demographics; COVID action plan re ventilation and any other COVID specific mitigations that will be in place; Equalities Impact Assessment; site layout plan; capacity calculations; information on the organiser's previous experience in delivering outdoor events (or similar credibility check).
- for an outdoor event additional details may be required (depending on type of event), such as: copy of Public Liability Insurance; Risk Assessment; Fire Risk Assessment; Medical Plan; Stewarding Plan; a Noise Management Plan; Wind Management Plan; Alcohol Management Plan; and details of traders (if relevant to the event).
- Event Safety Plan per existing local authority guidelines.
- whether an application is for rolling exception or one off event.
The local authority should then consider the risk assessment and operating plan for holding the event following existing event approval processes and procedures. The local authority will make a judgement based on professional expertise and local circumstance.
This could include engagement with:
- safety advisory group
- Police Scotland
- environmental health officers
- Transport Scotland
- directors of public health
- any other relevant parties
Event planners etc are expected to work within the published public health guidance as detailed for the sector in which the event is being planned.
Further guidance on events safety can be found on The Purple Guide to the Health, Safety and Welfare at Music and other Events Guidance, or Events Safety, which features HSE guidance on running events safely.
This application process is contained in the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020, with the relevant amendments coming into force on 17 May 2021.
Both local authorities and Police Scotland have powers to enforce the requirements placed on events organisers and venue operators, which are imposed by the Regulations. In cases where non-compliance poses a direct risk to public health, a direction or prohibition notice may be served.
Should an event be given approval to proceed with conditions attached to that approval, an event organiser must comply with those conditions. Failure to do so would be a criminal offence, punishable by a fine.