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New COVID-19 guidance published for UK festival organisers

An updated guide for UK festival organisers has been published to support the planning of events in 2021.

The new interim briefing, which builds upon planning considerations published last year on the Purple Guide website, has been updated in lieu of the results of the Government’s Events Research Programme (ERP) and reviews on social distancing and Covid-Status Certification later this summer.

The document has been developed by a coalition of industry bodies including the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), the Association of Festival Organisers (AFO), the Events Industry Forum (EIF) and Attitude is Everything, working in partnership with leading professionals.

The interim guidance briefing note is intended to support festival organisers in planning and facilitating event delivery in a COVID-secure manner. It covers planning and operational detail specific to the industry, and is intended to facilitate conversation and integrated planning with other stakeholders in areas that sit outside of the current central government guidance

Paul Reed, chief executive of the Association of Independent Festivals, said: “This interim guidance briefing provides strategic direction to festival organisers and includes practical mitigation measures to help them continue to plan for this summer and beyond.”

The document highlights the government’s roadmap to recovery, explaining that, subject to its assessment of four test events, the aim is to reopen indoor and outdoor performance events with socially distanced audiences at Step 3 of the Roadmap – no earlier than May 17. These will also be subject to capacity caps with outdoors, non-seated events capped at 4,000 or 50 per cent of a site’s capacity, whichever is lower.

Step 4 will take place no earlier than June 21, and at least five weeks after Step 3, following a further review of the data against the four tests. As before, the Government will announce one week in advance whether restrictions will be eased as planned.

The document states: “Experience demonstrates that the trajectory of the virus remains unpredictable; therefore, incorporating the ability to respond to changes in both increased and decreased legislative and national/regional/local mitigation measures is essential.”

It also provides guidance for handling legal frameworks for events, approaching consultation and event management planning, as well as documentation and mitigating risk from COVID-19 at music festivals, among other things.

Steve Heap, general secretary of the Association of Festival Organisers, added: “Having lost almost all of the industry’s 2020 events, festival organisers are very keen to stage whatever is safely possible over the remainder of this year’s season. To do that, clear guidance is needed. The publication of this document, free to all on the Purple Guide website, provides that guidance, written by experienced festival managers with the leadership of AIF.”

The group is also hosting a webinar with various contributors outlining the briefing note and taking questions.