As of writing, the current restrictions for events – outside of a limited number of government controlled trials – are 1,000 people in attendance (or 50% of a venue’s capacity, if lower) for indoor events and 4,000 people (or 50% of the site’s capacity, if lower) for outdoor events.
What we are yet to experience during the pandemic are events with tens to hundreds of thousands of attendees which highlight the festival season. The current expectation is that all remaining restrictions will be lifted on July 19th, though this is subject to revision, as we saw with the postponed lifting of restrictions that was previously marked for June 21st.
Unfortunately, even if restrictions do lift this time, 2021’s event calendar has already suffered losses, with many festivals cancelling this year’s dates due to the ongoing uncertainty and the impossibility of making all necessary arrangements in the current climate.
So far, Notting Hill Carnival, Glastonbury, Download and Boomtown have suffered their second consecutive year of closure with more likely to follow.
However, it is expected that we will see at-capacity festivals and other large events this summer for the first time since the pandemic began. The Events Research Programme (ERP) has conducted event trials since April and, while we do not yet know all their findings, early information has been promising, with low levels of coronavirus transmission occurring.
Security will be vital for the enforcement of whatever pandemic safety procedures the government requires for large events. Lateral flow tests to provide rapid detection of COVID-19 were trialled at Wembley Stadium early in the year and it is likely that some form of testing will be mandatory for capacity attendance to return.
We do not yet know what guidance will be published by the Events Research Programme, but whether rapid tests, evidence of vaccination or both end up being required, events will need to hire security staff to ensure cooperation and to resolve any situations where such measures are met with hostility.
It is not recommended that enforcement of COVID-19 safety procedures be left to general staff, many of whom will not have the ability to respond appropriately if an attendee refuses to comply.
We must also take into account that attendees of this year’s large events will not have experienced capacity crowds in more than a year. This may result in unpredictable behaviour, especially when combined with alcohol or drugs which they may also not be accustomed to.
While we hope such events will pass without incidence, this is a time where “hope for the best and plan for the worst” is more true than ever. An increased security presence is recommended to quickly de-escalate confrontations, remove aggressive individuals and provide immediate first aid.
Organisers of any large event this year must bear in mind that if an outbreak occurs at gatherings of tens of thousands it could be a major setback in our battle against COVID-19. The pandemic is not over and new, more contagious mutations are in the wild – variants that could spread like wildfire through a packed crowd.
No festival wants to be associated with a coronavirus outbreak. As soon as the government announces which safety procedures are required, contact a reputable security company to plan how the procedures will be enforced. Our freedoms are in sight, so let’s not slip up now.
Magenta Security provide award winning security services throughout the UK. We are in the top 5% of ACS approved contractors and were the first security company in Europe to be awarded ISO 14001 for our environmental management systems.
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