Date published: 
26 June 2020
Type: 
News
Intended audience: 
General public
ahppc-coronavirus

State and territory health authorities will decide whether large events at stadiums, arenas and large theatres proceed. They will do this based on the COVID-19 situation. When planning for these events, organisers should:

  • take into account general advice for large gatherings, and
  • address all risks.

Events in large venues carry risk of COVID-19 transmission due to:

  • Their large numbers
  • Crowding and queuing
  • People are in close proximity, mixing
  • Loud volume speech, cheering, and singing
  • Ventilation can be poor (indoor venues)
  • An increased risk of the virus being on surfaces
  • People who travel from (and return to) regional and interstate areas

These factors all represent a risk to control of COVID-19 and starting new outbreaks across Australia. Event organisers must conduct a risk assessment. They must also develop a risk management plan for these type of events (see below), specific to each venue. AHPPC encourages innovative approaches to managing identified risks, for example:

  • Requiring people to declare they are well upon entry
  • Refunding ticket costs for those who cannot attend because of illness
  • Encouraging different ways to cheer e.g. via devices, including for people at home

Risk assessment

Risk assessments and risk management plans should be specific to the event and venue. The risk assessment must consider:

  • Local case numbers (and national case numbers if important)
  • The type of event, including:
    • the activities
    • the length of the event
    • if the setting includes indoor or outdoor spaces (or both)
  • The risk factors linked to the event
  • How organisers can manage risks (prevention and control measures)
  • If the health system has capacity to respond to an outbreak

States and territories may ask event organisers to use specific risk assessment tools. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a tool that:

  • Gives a score to each risk factor and control measure
  • Calculates an overall risk score
  • Gives a defined risk category
  • Helps with decisions

The WHO resources are available at:

Event organisers must review risk assessments at regular intervals. This is because risks may change over time. Prevention and control requirements will change over time too. It’s important to identify any learnings and share them with industry.

Key requirements

It is important to put all required public health measures in place, and to address and manage public health risks.

Put these public health measures in place, at a minimum:

  • COVID Safe plans for all premises
  • Messaging not to attend the venue if sick, stay at home and get tested
  • Physical distancing measures
  • Hygiene requirements (hand washing, cough hygiene and respiratory etiquette)
  • Regular venue cleaning and disinfecting
  • Density limits (where required)
  • Restrictions on crowd numbers
  • Maintaining a list of contact details for every person who attends (or each booking)

Restrictions on crowds

The return of large crowds to sporting or other events should happen over time:

  • The initial return could be virtual, with events being hosted online.
  • Events could then return with lower numbers (overall or per section).
  • Larger numbers may be possible, depending on COVID-19 case numbers.

Whilst COVID-19 remains a threat to the health of all Australians, a new normal is evolving. This means:

  • All events must have allocated seats (no standing).
  • Every person who attends must have their own ticket.
  • Very large events may not proceed at full capacity.
  • Event organisers must
    • Consult (at least initially) with the relevant local public health authority
    • Develop an appropriate risk management plan for each venue and event (see below).

In Step 3, seated and ticketed events may take place with the following crowd limits:

  • Stadiums with a capacity of up to 40,000 people may operate at 25% seating capacity.
  • Stadiums with a capacity of greater than 40,000 people may not have more than 10,000 people.
  • Arenas (indoor stadium-like venues) can operate up to state and territory caps on crowd sizes.
  • Theatres can operate up to state and territory caps on crowd sizes.
  • States and territories will think about opening other large venues on a case by case basis.

In Step 4, states and territories may allow all of these large venues to admit larger crowds, provided:

  • There is no evidence of sustained community transmission
  • The event is seated-access only, with ticketing
  • They maintain physical distancing
    • Allocate seats to enable appropriate physical distance (e.g. 1.5m) between individuals or groups do not know each other.
    • People who know each other can sit together. They must be separated from other groups or people with physical distancing (e.g. 1.5m).
  • They put all other required public health measures in place
  • They address and manage all public health risks

For this to occur, organisers must:

  • Demonstrate that measures in Step 3 have managed the risk in their venue
  • Incorporate any learnings from Step 3 in their risk management plans
  • Confirm that there is no evidence of sustained community transmission
    • The relevant state or territory public health authority will define what sustained community transmission means in their context.
  • The relevant state or territory public health authority will define what sustained community transmission means in their context. Generally, this means no cases (or low cases) and no cases (or few cases) without an epidemiological link.
  • Generally, this means no cases (or low cases) and no cases (or few cases) without an epidemiological link.

Tickets

  • Seat allocation must allow appropriate physical distance (e.g. 1.5m) between people or groups who do not know each other. People or groups who do not know each other may sit together (i.e. in consecutive seats). For example, this might mean that:
    • every second seat and every second row is vacant
    • there is at least one seat and one row between groups
  • Tickets must be electronic and:
    • must allocate specific seating and identify every ticket holder.
    • must be unlocked before the event.
  • Ticketing systems must:
    • record contact details for each ticket holder
    • be available to public health units to facilitate contact tracing when required. Ticket information needs to link to a seating map and be available by row or section.
  • Organisers should think about asking ticket holders to declare they are well before giving access to the ticket.
  • The ticketing process should provide attendees with:
    • advice and detail on physical distancing and hygiene
    • details about plans that are in place to minimise the risk of transmission
    • advice for people who may be at higher risk of severe disease and warnings about the risk of attending
    • information about the COVIDSafe app
    • advice to not attend the event, or to leave, if they develop any cold or flu-like symptoms
  • Tickets should be refundable if a ticket-holder is unwell. Event communication should highlight that people who are unwell must not attend.
  • Organisers must manage scalping or re-sale of tickets to ensure contact details are correct for every person who attends.

Restrictions on indoor spaces

Boxes and other indoor spectator spaces:

  • Organisers must require guests to be sit in allocated seats.
    • Seat allocation must allow appropriate physical distance (e.g. 1.5m) between people or groups who do not know each other.
    • People or groups who do know each other can sit together.
  • Occupancy must comply with either:
    • state and territory density rules for bars and restaurants, or
    • the one person per 4 square metres (4m2) rule.

Indoor merchandise stores:

  • Maintain 1.5m physical distancing
  • Occupancy must comply with either:
    • state and territory density rules for small premises, or
    • the one person per 4 square metres (4m2) rule.

Restrictions on food and drinks amenities

Takeaway food and drinks amenities present a risk of overcrowding and mixing.

Venues should think about keeping these stalls closed and encourage BYO food and non- alcoholic drinks where possible.

Takeaway food and drinks services may operate where:

  • They manage queues to ensure 1.5m physical distancing people
  • Queues can be separated from other spectators by 1.5m
  • Queues do not block access to toilets and other facilities.

Risk management plan

Event organisers must develop a risk management plan. All risk management plans should consider the following:

  1. Epidemiological situation
    • Both local and national case numbers
    • There should be no sustained community transmission.
      • The relevant state or territory public health authority will define what sustained community transmission means in their context.
      • Generally, this means no (or few) locally acquired cases and no (or few) cases without an epidemiological link.
  2. People attending
    • All events should comply with public health advice and must ensure appropriate physical distancing.
    • Limit the number of people attending based on the type of venue and limits on crowd sizes.
    • Allocate each person with a seat and give them a ticket.
  3. Risk communication
    • Deliver clear and consistent messages to participants and the public about risks and how event organisers will manage them.
    • Provide key messages in line with national health policies, including:
      • Physical distancing and hygiene requirements.
      • Advice for people who may be at higher risk of severe disease and warnings about the risk of attendance.
      • Information about the COVIDSafe app.
      • Advice to not attend the event, or to leave the event, if they develop any cold or flu-like symptoms.
      • Advice on steps to take if they develop symptoms of COVID-19.
  4. Transport
    • Planning should include a transport plan, including public or other organised transport to and from the venue.
    • Quantity, frequency and timing of transport must minimise crowding.
  5. Entry and Exit
    • Manage flow of spectators into and out of the venue to allow physical distancing and reduce mixing.
    • Entry and exit should be staggered in time and by section.
  6. Physical distancing
    • Manage events to reduce crowding and address any ‘choke’ points.
    • Seat allocation must allow appropriate physical distance (e.g. 1.5m) between people or groups who do not know each other.
      • People or groups who do know each other can sit together (i.e. in consecutive seats)
    • Seating plans should take amenities, entries and exits, and congregation points (food and drinks services) into account.
      • Provide more amenities (e.g. portable toilets) to reduce crowding and queuing.
    • Sections should isolate groups from one another, where possible, to reduce mixing between groups of spectators.
    • Restrict access to areas as needed to prevent overcrowding and crowd movement (i.e. access corridors and/or food and drinks services).
    • Think about encouraging BYO food and non-alcoholic drinks.
    • Organisers  must  announce  physical distancing requirements. They must provide signs, floor marks, or other controls to encourage physical distancing.
    • The event may need additional personnel to help with crowd control and to ensure physical distancing.
  7. Personal hygiene
    Event organisers must support personal hygiene measures and provide:
    • Audio/visual messages and signs
    • Alcohol-based hand sanitiser
    • Hand washing facilities
    • Adequate waste bins
  8. Environmental hygiene
    • Ensure regular cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces. This includes doors, chairs, bathrooms and toilets, hand rails, food and drink facilities.
  9. Staff
    • Provide staff with suitable training on hand and respiratory hygiene.
    • Conduct a risk assessment and apply controls to protect staff using the hierarchy of controls.
    • Ensure staff understand plans for managing people who become unwell.
  10. Contingency planning
    Organisers must:
    • Develop a plan for managing people who become unwell, including staff.
    • Plan what actions they will take if case numbers change (local or national).
    • Plan to manage unexpected gatherings of people outside or around the venue.