With restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic having been lifted in the UK, large-scale outdoor events have begun to return.

Fans have been allowed back into stadiums to watch sports and events like the Reading and Leeds Festival are set to ramp up the sense of normality finally returning.

While mass gatherings may again be becoming part of everyday life, the legacy of COVID-19 means they won’t quite be the same as before.

Ensuring safety is essential at large-scale events, and here’s how to do it in the new normal.

COVID-19 requirements

While COVID-19 infections may have decreased in England, Wales and Scotland, it’s still important to have certain protocols in place to stop the virus from spreading among people attending major events.

Many events are requiring ticket holders to show proof of full vaccination, natural immunity or a negative lateral flow test to gain access.

Make sure your venue is suitable

Restrictions may have been lifted, but for many people the idea of being crammed into a venue – even one that’s outdoors – with a load of strangers is far from appealing.

Ensure you have sufficient space for people to get around while remaining distant from others and avoid setting up with areas where bottlenecking could occur. If that’s not possible, it may be worth considering another venue.

You’ll want somewhere that’s easily accessible for people with disabilities, wheelchairs and maybe even prams, as well as being in the vicinity of amenities like hospitals, public transport and emergency services.

Flooding has been a particular problem in the UK this year too, so it’s worth checking to see if your site is vulnerable to it.

Risk assessment

To ensure your venue is fully compliant with all regulations, you must conduct a thorough risk assessment.

This will consider a wide range of factors covering everything from trip hazards to terrorism and security threats.

A safe environment will be required for everyone employed to work at the event as well as those who are paying to attend.

Emergency training

Your risk assessment will inform the plans you make for dealing with emergencies.

Consider how staff will raise the alarm and communicate with one another, the process for temporarily stopping activities, and how and to where people will be moved.

Getting a communication network in place and regularly monitoring any potential areas of risk could help stop the need for an emergency plan to be put into action.

Correct signage

It may seem minor but having things like having emergency exits and the location of first aid kits clearly labelled is essential for the safety of attendees.

Safety barriers can help keep guests separated when queueing inside and outside the venue while also reducing the chances of crushes occurring.