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Government guidelines on how events should check Covid passes

by Emily Wallin

The government has published new guidance for events and venues on how to comply with new mandatory Covid-pass rules which come into force on Wednesday 15 December.

Under Plan B announced 8 December, visitors to any indoor event with more than 400 unseated people, will have to show proof of Covid vaccination or negative test prior to entry.

New guidance for event organisers published today (13 December) states that a single ‘responsible person’ must be placed in charge of compliance with the latest legislation.

However the rules are unclear whether venues or organisers will be ultimately responsible.

The government advice says: “In settings where it is mandatory to use Covid-19 status checks as a condition of entry, you are expected to take reasonable measures to ensure that all attendees aged 18 or above 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.

“Those relying on testing to prove their Covid-19 status are strongly advised to take tests as late as possible before attending the event, ideally within 12 hours, to strengthen the protection testing provides.

“It is also strongly advised that workers aged 18 or above who come into contact with customers 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.

“As a responsible person of a venue or event, you must take reasonable measures to ensure that only attendees with the required NHS COVID Pass (or other accepted international evidence) or a negative test result enter your venue.

“Each venue or event will have a responsible person who must comply with a number of obligations relating to the requirement to use the NHS Covid Pass as a condition of entry. This person should check where responsibility for data protection lies in their organisation.

“You are the responsible person for an indoor or outdoor sports stadium, conference centre or exhibition hall or any public hall, live music venue, theatre or concert hall, which meets the relevant thresholds, if you are the venue manager.

“The event organiser is the responsible person for:

  • indoor events with 500 or more attendees expected to stand or move around
  • outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees expected to stand or move around
  • any events with 10,000 or more attendees

“If you are hiring out your venue for an event, you should discuss proof of vaccination or test requirements with the event organiser. If there is no event organiser, compliance with mandatory proof of vaccination or test requirements is the responsibility of the manager of the premises where the event is held.”

In deciding whether mandatory passes apply, each event will have to asses whether their visitors will be standing, moving around or sat in pre-allocated seating.

The rules state: “Moving around’ does not include moving to and from seats to access toilets or get food and drink (for example, going to a bar during an intermission), or to leave the event.”

Events organisers are also being urged to use a a dedicated app to verify passes and prevent fraud – however they are warned that using the technology may present obligations under data protection legislation.

The guidance says: “You should check for proof of Covid-19 status through use of the free NHS Covid Pass Verifier App wherever possible to ensure passes are valid and have not expired and reduce the possibility of fraud. This provides the most secure verification of an NHS Covid Pass and passes from the rest of the UK and 62 countries that are part of the EU gateway, by scanning the 2D barcodes. The NHS Covid Pass can also be visually checked, but to reduce fraud we recommend the use of the NHS COVID Pass Verifier App. Text or email proofs of a recent test should be visually checked.”

Further advice on using the  app is available here.

Businesses already using the app will have to make sure it is updated to make sure it complies with the latest restrictions.

This update will ensure that the verifier app reflects the latest government policy which comes into force at 6am on 15 December.

In another change to the rules, the NHS Covid pass will no longer accept natural immunity as proof of Covid-status.

In some circumstances – such as when large numbers of attendees are expected at the same time –  events will be allowed to carry out spot checks, rather than check 100% of visitors. Events will have to seek approval for spot checks from local authorities 10 days in advance, however approval will be automatically granted between 15 December and 31 December.

Further advice for event planners is available here.

 

 

 

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