Current Northern Ireland Executive restrictions permit certain events to take place providing that Event Organisers:

  • Follow all relevant COVID guidance depending on the type of event. From 2 July 2021 outdoor events must be risk assessed to determine the safe maximum capacity for the venue.
  • Complete a suitable COVID risk assessment to include all mitigation measures are in place. Outdoor events with more than 30 people must have a documented COVID Risk Assessment. Indoors events with more than 15 must have a documented COVID Risk Assessment.
  • Adhere to all legal requirements, including maintaining social distancing, restrictions on group sizes, preventing mixing between groups and mandating face coverings in indoor areas where required.
  • All reasonable action has been taken by the event organiser to mitigate risk to public health.

Event organisers must keep up to date with regulations and restrictions in the lead up to and on the day of the event to ensure compliance and safety. 

Contingency plans must be put in place so that changes can be made to the event as quickly and easily as possible, and to effectively cancel or postpone the event should changes in restrictions mean the event or numbers are no longer permitted.  Consider how information regarding changes or cancellation will be communicated. 

Organising Your Event

Below are some points to consider in relation to COVID when running an event. Please note all the usual event management and safety measures must still be implemented and adhered to.  These are specifically about reducing the spread of the virus.


Decide on a suitable location/site for the event, taking the following factors into consideration:

Size and layout – Draw a plan of how the event will sit on the site, determine the maximum number that can safely attend the site and/or certain areas within the site, based on social distancing requirements.  Consider things like what facilities there are, where they are located, access to public transport routes, one way system potential etc.

Access to and egress - Plan how to get people to and from the site safely, maintaining social distancing whilst not having a negative impact on neighbouring business/properties/public roads etc. Try where possible to have one way systems, with separate entry and exit points 

Flow of Traffic – Implementing one way systems for pedestrians during the event that allows for social distancing.  Consider the layout of facilities, vendors, performers to ensure there is adequate space for persons passing, persons spectating and persons queuing.

Location of vendors and facilities – the number and placement of vendors and facilities is important so as to discourage too many people congregating in one particular area, as well as ensuing queuing systems for each vendor/facility is properly managed and is not obstructing walkways.

Queuing systems - Before, during and after the event and inside and outside of the event.  Identify where queuing systems will be, ensuring minimal impact on the flow of traffic and ensuring social distancing requirements can be met by all, at all times. Consider the need for signage, barriers and marshals.

Emergency evacuation - Plan for the event of an emergency, ensure evacuation points and routes are kept clear.  Consider several separate muster points so that social distancing can be maintained.

Event Management Plan (EMP)

Event Organisers are strongly advised to write an Event Management Plan outlining all aspects of the event i.e. a schedule of what the event will entail, arrangements in place for for first aid, security, emergency evacuation, facility provision and location, waste, noise, vulnerable people such as lost children etc. and outlining who is responsible for what.

Writing the arrangements down helps you link everything together and helps you stay on plan and ensures others are clear on what is happening and the role they play.

The EMP should include a section on COVID control measures to be implemented throughout the event, from ticket sales or how numbers are controlled, to social distancing measures, hand hygiene facilities, what do to if someone presents themselves at the event with COVID symptoms and use of marshals to ensure everyone abides by the rules to maintain safety.  This section should include information on actions expected and by whom, should COVID safety measures be disrupted or deviated from.

Think of the EMP as a complete guide to your event. Approach the event management plan with a view that if the main event organiser is unavailable, someone else could pick the plan up and run the event safely.

Plans should also be put in place in the event of needing to make significant changes to the event or having to deal with an emergency situation as well as possibly having to cancel the event in line with Government guidance and or regulations.

You can access a template for the Event Management Plan on the council website:


The event organiser has overall responsibility for safety at the event.  Any delegation of responsibilities must be clearly communicated and understood by all.  This information should be included in the EMP.

Covid-19 Risk Assessment considerations:

A Covid-19 specific risk assessment must be undertaken by a competent person. This will require site knowledge and a detailed plan of the event, which will allow the organiser to identify where there is a greater risk of spread of the virus and where and when mitigation measures are required in order to reduce the risk.

Consider how and where people enter the site, how they move through the site, any pinch points or narrow routes, areas people may congregate, spectate or queue, facilities they may use, activities they may take part in and how they then exit the site.  Consider areas of high hand contact and how this will be limited or managed.

Consideration may be given to COVID testing such as Lateral Flowing Testing of staff and visitors. The Northern Ireland Executive are keen to introduce Lateral Flow Testing to assist with identifying COVID positive cases and help control the spread of the virus.

From this you should be able to identify how and where people may become exposed to increased risk from the virus, and therefore where additional mitigation measures will be necessary. 

Once suitable safety measures have been implemented they must be monitored.  COVID safety measures will only be effective if they are properly used and adhered to, therefore consider how you will monitor this and how you will deal with any deviations during the event. 

The following issues/mitigation measures must be addressed in the COVID risk assessment:

Control on numbers

How will the organiser ensure the maximum number of persons permitted by restrictions or by the safe capacity of the site (if lower) is not exceeded?

  • Physical barriers to separate people and control movement of people
  • Ticket sales to control numbers, staggered arrival/exit times or gates etc.
  • Zoning areas for public and for volunteers so limit exposure and can track potential contacts

Social Distancing

How will social distancing and safe capacity be maintained by all at all times?

  • Designate walkways and one way systems
  • Regular PA announcements
  • Effectively manage queuing systems i.e. with barriers, marshals, signage, markers
  • Use competent marshals to monitor and enforce compliance

Hand Hygiene

What Hand hygiene facilities are needed and where? How will you ensure their regular use?

  • Signpost accessible hand washing facilities
  • Place hand sanitisers at suitable locations i.e. areas of high contact points, Entrances and exits, areas for eating/drinking, welfare and toilet facilities etc.
  • Regular PA announcements
  • Signage
  • Encourage staff/volunteers to frequently wash hands and/or sanitise hands
  • Limit the need to touch doors/gates by keeping them open and place a marshal where necessary
  • Encourage cashless ticket sale/entry fee and cashless sales of food and drink etc.
  • Sanitisers at each activity/performer area within the event


How will you reduce risks of persons contracting the virus whilst at the event? How will you manage risk from contact surfaces?

  • Regular cleaning of high contact surfaces such as doors, hand rails, stair hand rails, counter tops, cash machines etc.
  • Regular cleaning of toilets
  • Keeping doors/gates open to reduce touching, as long as this does not interfere with or breach fire safety precautions and requirements
  • Cleaning of equipment/activities at the event between uses

Protective Equipment/Face coverings

How will you reduce risks to persons using or working in indoor areas/facilities as necessary?

  • Face covering should be worn indoors
  • Protective screens at counters/reception areas
  • Marshals monitoring and controlling this
  • Regular PA announcements
  • Public advertisement before the event


How will you ensure all safety measures are implemented and maintained across the site? Consider how many marshals you will need and where?

  • Marshals in place to monitor and control entrance/exit to site, to monitor and control numbers in specific areas of the site that have a separate capacity and to control the movement of people i.e. following one way system etc.
  • Marshals in the main site of the event monitoring social distancing measures are being adhered to.
  • At inside arears to ensure social distancing and face covering requirements are being adhered to.
  • At food and drink areas to ensure group capacity numbers are not exceeded and to ensure no mixing of groups.
  • To control queuing systems (inside and outside the site)


How will information be communicated Prior to and during the event?

  • Event advertisement should advise that the event will be planned within restrictions and guidelines  
  • Signage i.e. where to stand, where to que, reminder to wear masks, directional, one way systems, sanitiser location etc.
  • PA system announcements – reminding everyone to keep safe and what to do and where certain measures are located etc. reminding them re social distancing and wearing face coverings
  • Put a point of contact in place for staff/volunteers to contact if they feel unwell and will not be in attendance  
  • Put measures in place to remind the public not to attend the event if they are unwell or have tested positive or have been identified as a close contact
  • Discourage car sharing unless from one household/bubble
  • Reminder about face covering requirement on public transport

Track n Trace

How can and will you assist with Track and Trace?

  • Contact details of persons helping out at the event as well as attendees should be recorded and kept for 21 days, to assist track and trace in identifying close contacts.
  • Obtain contact details for workers/volunteers and members of the public attending the event i.e. through ticket sales or signing in.

Dealing with a Positive Case

Put a protocol in place for managing a Covid-19 positive result amongst staff and volunteers etc. in accordance with government guidelines.

The symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature); OR
  • A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual); OR
  • A loss of or change in sense of smell or taste.

There should also be procedures in place to isolate anyone taking ill on the day of the event, until they can be taken off site.