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English venues face £10,000 fines for COVID check breaches

Venues in England face fines of up to £10,000 for failing to enforce mandatory NHS Covid Pass checks under new guidelines that come into effect on Wednesday.

Indoor events with 500 or more attendees, outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees and all events with 10,000 or more attendees are all required to check the status of entrants from 6am on Wednesday under Plan B rules issued by the Government. Adults will only be allowed to enter venues if they have the NHS Covid Pass (or approved international equivalent) or have valid proof that they have completed a negative PCR test or negative rapid lateral flow test within the past 48 hours.

The new rules, which are subject to being passed by Parliament today, will be implemented in time for Premier League football matches on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, as well as other concerts and theatre performances and shows.

The guidelines state that spot checks may be used in limited circumstances, such as events with more than 10,000 attendees, if it is not reasonably possible to check proof of Covid-19 status for all attendees at these events.

Venues must carry out an assessment of risk and determine the percentage of checks that can safely be carried out. The responsible person must submit this assessment of risk to apply to the relevant local authority at least 10 working days in advance of the event, with an effective waiver on those who apply until December 31. The local authority will either approve the measure, ask for alterations or reject the proposal thereby requiring the venue to conduct 100% checks.

The guidelines state: “You should communicate these requirements clearly with your customers, so they know what to expect when visiting your venue. This could include notifying customers of the requirement to show their NHS Covid Pass on your promotional materials and website, informing those who make telephone enquiries or adding the information to tickets, as well as providing information on the steps required to comply with entry requirements.”

The guidelines, issued on Monday, state that the venue manager will be responsible for the implementation of rules.

Venues that do not comply with legal obligations in relation to carrying out mandatory Covid-19 status checks could face enforcement action from local authorities, including prosecution or issue of a fixed penalty notice. The fixed penalty for a first offence would be £1,000, £2,000 for a second offence, £4,000 for a third offence and £10,000 for the fourth and any subsequent offences.

The guidelines also cover advice on scanning passes, record keeping and expectations for workers.

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