Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) statement on very high risk social environments

A statement from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) on very high risk social environments – nightclubs, dance venues, and large unstructured outdoor events.

Date published:
General public

This statement has been updated. View the original statement.

Definition of very high risk social environments for COVID-19 transmission

Very high risk environments include:

  • night clubs
  • dance venues and events
  • multi-day events
  • large unstructured outdoor events, such as:
    • holiday celebrations where crowds gather
    • music festivals
    • food festivals
    • school graduation festivals
    • carnivals
    • some community sporting events
    • unticketed spectator events.

Very high risk environments carry risk of COVID-19 transmission due to:

  • their large numbers
  • crowding and queuing
  • people are in close proximity
  • mixing between people who do not know each other
  • loud volume speech, cheering, and singing
  • activities such as dancing, singing
  • intimate physical contact such as hugging, kissing, and sexual activities
  • the service of alcohol and use of illicit drugs
  • poor ventilation (indoor venues)
  • an increased risk of the virus being on surfaces that lots of people touch
  • multiple venues operating at the same time in any given state or territory
  • people visiting multiple venues on any given day
  • people attending from (and returning to) regional and remote areas.

These factors all represent a risk to control of COVID-19 and starting new outbreaks across Australia.

State and territory authorities determine the size of events that may be held and requirements for COVID event plans.  For some states and territories, the risk may be too high for these environments to open or hold events.  The health authorities will decide whether significant modifications to the characteristics of such events (for example, venue, attendees, activities, facilities) are required.

When planning for events in very high risk settings, organisers and venue managers should check with the state or territory industry or health website for requirements.

Read previous statements from the AHPPC.

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