This week the UK government announced the roadmap for the full re-opening of the events sector in England from 19 July.  Events businesses will need consider the latest guidance on the use of COVID-status certification.

Over the last year we have become accustomed to the sight of ‘behind closed doors’ events and reduced capacity crowds, whilst a huge number of live events have of course been cancelled.  Recent weeks have seen fantastic scenes with fans attending Royal Ascot, large crowds at Wembley for Euro 2020 matches and the prospect of a full Centre Court for the Wimbledon Championship finals. However these recent mass-events have all taken place under the government’s pilot Event Research Programme, which mandated strict requirements of vaccination status and negative COVID tests (so called COVID-status certification or COVID-passports) as a condition for entry.  For future large scale events, event organisers will need to determine their own entry requirements and policies for use of COVID-status certifications. The guidance is also apply to hospitality venues such as pubs, nightclubs and restaurants.

The new government guidance, which applies to England only, provides that from 19 July:

  • the use of COVID-status certification as a condition of entry for visitors to any setting will not be mandated – event organisers and venues will be free to determine their own rules;
  • “Essential settings should not use certification, but others can decide to use it at their own discretion in compliance with legal obligations” – accordingly event organisers and venues may choose to insist upon COVID-status certification as a condition of entry. The guidance elaborates that “Essential settings and those that have been able to stay open throughout the pandemic should not use certification”;
  • For venues which choose to require COVID-status certification, the government has suggested using the NHS COVID Pass system (NHS COVID Pass for events and travel - NHS (, which provides users with digital and paper routes to a “Pass” if they meet one of the following criteria:
  • 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in England (provided the second dose was at least 2 weeks prior)
  • Negative PCR test or rapid lateral flow test within the past 48 hours
  • Positive PCR test within the past 6 months
  • Whilst the NHS COVID Pass system will provide a standardised and convenient way to verify COVID-status certification, operators will also be required to accept other forms of proof of status, e.g. text results of tests and paper letters.

Following this guidance, venue owners and operators will need to consider:

  1. Whether they wish to impose any COVID-status certification requirements as a condition for entry;
  2. Processes for implementing the NHS COVID PASS system and how to cater for the needs of customers that do not have access to smartphones or other digital means;
  3. How to communicate policies and requirements to customers;
  4. Whether ticket / venue entry terms and conditions require updating to reflect any new entry policy; and
  5. Refund policies for ticket holders who no longer wish to attend or are unable to attend due to their COVID-status certification.