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The hospitality sector (venues, restaurants, clubs, etc) has now fully re-opened following the constraints of the pandemic, with all venues now welcoming guests as usual. Ed Sheeran, for instance, recently played at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, while tickets for this year’s festivals and concerts are selling out at an incredible rate.
Whilst we are all looking forward to enjoying ourselves, it is important to remember that, in the light of Covid-19, health and safety rules have changed and venue owners, event organisers and attendees need to be up to speed with what’s new and important to know.
Viktoria Kalemi, legal adviser at DAS Law, has the all-important information.
The venue holder owes a duty of care to everyone attending the venue, including their staff. Both the venue holder and the property owner have to make sure as far as they can that they provide safe premises and take steps to minimise any risks. This duty of care and responsibility is illustrated and set out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
This responsibility could be summarised into three tasks:
Initially, the organiser needs to draft and consider the type of event that they intend to arrange; while doing so the organiser needs to include variables such as the number of people that the venue can accommodate, the time of the year that the event will take place, as well as whether there are any convenient local amenities nearby (i.e., hospitals, fire station, parking site).
If the organiser is happy with his findings and the suitability of the venue in place, they need to make sure that they go through risk assessments and develop emergency plans. This involves considering any possible risks and emergencies relating to different aspects such as weather hazards, fire risks and drawing a plan that would for example examine how to get people away from danger and how to handle any casualties. These assessments could be allocated to different contractors; however, the venue organiser still needs to make sure that everything goes as planned.
This would primarily depend on the type of the concert, suitability and size of the venue and whether the attendees will be standing or be seated. Further guidance on that can be found on ‘The guide to safety at sports grounds (SGSA) website.
According to the Health and Safety Executive the venue, organiser owes a duty to make sure that has taken reasonable steps to prevent and limit any risk of fire. Particularly the venue holder has a responsibility under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 to carry out fire safety risk assessments. This will assist the organiser to be prepared to deal with any fire risk and their plan for minimising them.
The duties described also require that the venue holder lists and considers flammable materials that could start a fire and find solutions to overcome any possible problems.
The venue holder could for instance have in place fire detection and warning systems, fire-fighting equipment and facilities, escape routes, emergency escape lighting, signs and notices. It is important however that the venue holder keeps the fire plans under review and puts them to test every day before the event and checks that the designated staff are competent and well aware of their responsibilities.
Fire safety checks and plans are a vital consideration for venues as there have been various cases that have led to a loss of life or serious injury because of hazardous materials at the event or due to non-competent staff who could not deal with the situation at hand.
Venue holder needs to make sure that they deliver a holistic approach to security. Detailed guidance can be found on the Government’s website. Few instances would include drawing plans, providing physical protection (i.e. security guards), screening and detection, incident response and cyber security. Venue holders need to allocate responsibilities to their staff and check whether the security operative require an SIA licence.
To avoid the unfortunate event that took place in Manchester’s in 2017 venue holders should make sure that they have anti-terrorism plans drawn. Venue holders are advised to consult with the National Counter-terrorism Security Office to get advice to minimise and mitigate and detect any terrorist attack in crowded places.
Furthermore, there are plans to implement Martyn’s law to help venues plan for terrorist attacks. Figen Murray’s son Martyn tragically was killed in the Manchester arena and has been campaigning to have further legislation requiring venues to have terrorism planning as part of all of their risk assessments. Following a consultation, the government confirmed in January 2022 that it will bring in legislative changes that require venues to have proportionate measures in place to protect the public from a terrorist attack.
In Wales all the Covid rules from April will come to an end, however it is still advisable that the venue holders go through risk assessments frequently to help minimise the spread of the virus.
In England all rules have come to an end.
In Scotland, attendees will still be required to wear a face mask if it is an indoor event and venue holders likewise will need to follow guidance to help reduce the transmission.
In Northern Ireland Covid rules are now guidance. Hence it would be strongly advisable for venues to follow risk assessment, strongly recommend attendees to wear a face mask if the vent is indoor and strongly encourage to use Covid passes.