MPs have voted in favour of making Covid passes mandatory for large events in England.
Covid passes came into force from 6am on Wednesday (15 December) and will be required as a condition of entry to nightclubs, indoor crowded venues with a capacity of more than 500, outdoor events of 4,000 or more and any event with a capacity of more than 10,000 people.
Anyone aged 18 and over must show an NHS Covid pass or an approved equivalent to prove they have been vaccinated, or show a “valid notification” of a negative test taken less than 48 hours before the event, unless they are exempt.
The law will make it an offence to make, adapt, supply or offer to supply a fake Covid pass or test result, punishable by fines of up to £10,000. Venues that do not comply with rules on carrying out checks could be fined £1,000 in the first instance, which increases £2,000 and £4,000 for second and third offences and jumping to £10,000 for any subsequent offences.
The government has issued updated guidance for event organisers and venues on how to comply with the new mandatory Covid pass rules. The guidance states that venues should have a ‘responsible person’ to make sure rules are followed and organisations meet their legal responsibilities. It is recommended that events organisers use a a dedicated app to verify passes, but the guidance warns they need to protect customers’ personal data when completing COVID-19 status. You can read the government guidance here.
The introduction of mandatory Covid passes are part of the government’s Plan B measures, announced on 8 December to tackle the rapid spread of the omicron variant in the UK. These include work from home guidance, widespread use of face masks in “most public indoor venues”, and daily testing for people identified as a contact of a coronavirus case – with isolation required only for people who test positive.
These build on the travel restrictions already introduced, which require all travellers arriving in the UK to take a Covid test before their journey to the UK – as well as another test after they arrive, although the red list has now been scrapped.
Industry associations last week responded with concern over how the Plan B announcement will impact on the business events sector. Confidence had already been dented since news of the Omicron variant emerged, according to industry leaders on our micebook talks panel last week, with many agencies reporting postponements to live events.
Kerrin MacPhie, chief executive of the Meetings Industry Association (mia), said: “Based on the latest scientific data we understand that the Plan B restrictions will need to be put in place, to help reduce the transmission of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
“However, this will have a devastating impact on business meetings and events. We know from some initial research conducted just last week, Omicron has already had an immediate impact on client confidence and future bookings. We will continue to listen to our members to fully understand the impact and the needs of the sector.”
Juliet Price, consultant executive director of HBAA beam said that business events and hospitality need Plan B4E – Plan B for Events – immediately now that Plan B has been confirmed.
“We called for the reduced level of VAT paid by the sector to continue beyond April 2022 and the extension of the Kick Start as Plan B4E – Plan B for Events – in October before the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement as advance support in anticipation of Plan B,” she said.
“There are already clear signs of another knock back to event planner confidence in booking and running live events. Now that the instruction to work from home again and compulsory mask wearing are being reintroduced widely, we know from bitter experience in early 2020 that the sector will immediately suffer more substantial financial issues and jobs will come under threat.
“Live events will quickly become commercially less viable and are more likely to return to virtual or be cancelled. This will not be a short term hit; the industry will feel the consequences of this knock back well into 2022.”
A number of event industry events have been postponed as a result of the new variant and rising infection results, including the SITE GB Christmas Lunch planned for Monday 20 December, and micebook and Visit Monaco’s Christmas drinks, due to take place on 15 December.
We have also taken the difficult decision to postpone our micebook EXPO re-Engineered, due to take place on 12-13 January, due to travel restrictions and work from home guidance, which may make it difficult for many of our international suppliers and audience members to attend. The decision is based purely on our wish to be as inclusive and responsible as possible and ensure all our partners and buyer community have the best chance of being able to attend, and we will announce new dates asap.