COVID Event Plans - Frequently Asked Questions

Guidance
Frequently asked questions about COVID Event Plans.

Last updated: 15 January 2021 at 7.00pm

 

What is a COVID Event Plan?

A COVID Event Plan describes the measures that will be undertaken by the event organiser to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission at a public or private event with more than 500 patrons that require additional Local Government Authority approval to proceed. A COVID Event Plan is not required for events that form part of the usual business of places for which there is an existing ‘public building approval’. COVID Event Plans must be approved by an authorised person before the event can proceed.

See the COVID Event Plan template.

What is the purpose of a COVID Event Plan?

COVID Event Plans help event organisers reduce the potential risk of COVID-19 transmission during their event, in line with the best available health advice at the time. Approval of a COVID Event Plan also provides confidence that the event will proceed in manner that prioritises public health (assuming the event receives all other necessary local government approvals).

Why do I need a COVID Event Plan if there is no community transmission in WA?

Having a COVID Event Plan will ensure event organisers play their role in keeping Western Australians safe. It will reduce the potential risk and spread of COVID-19 and gives event-goers more confidence to attend and participate in events. It is important to maintain sensible public health measures in WA, including good hygiene, rigorous cleaning regimes and physical distancing. These practices will help to reduce the potential risk of COVID-19 transmission, as the pandemic could easily escalate.

How do I know if I need a COVID Event Plan?

A COVID Event Plan is required for a public or private event involving more than 500 patrons, including for events that require additional Local Government Authority approval to proceed. A COVID Event Plan is not required for events that form part of the usual business of places for which there is an existing 'public building approval'. For more information, contact the venue operator or Local Government Authority responsible for the area in which you intend to hold the event.

Who is included in the patron count?

Paid ticket holders, participants, spectators and parents/carers are included when determining the total number of patrons at an event. Staff, officials, contractors and key volunteers do not need to be included in the 500-person count.

Is there a maximum number of people allowed at an event?

In addition to a specified capacity for some large stadium venues, the current COVID Event Guidelines also specify a patron cap for some events, including festivals and concerts. There is also a mandatory requirement to provide a minimum of 2 square metres per person in the areas where people are permitted, which may restrict patron numbers. COVID Event Plans proposing larger numbers of patrons/attendees are more likely to be considered high risk and require escalation to the Department of Health for review.

How do I calculate the number of patrons if my event runs over multiple days or session times?

If your event runs over multiple days, session times or fixtures, the patron number represents the maximum number or people your event will host at any one point in time. For example, a children’s festival consisting of 6 lots of 1 hr sessions, with 2,000 tickets per session, will have a patron number of 2,000.

If multiple sessions or fixtures are planned, but the maximum number of patrons in any one of these is less than 500, you will not require a COVID Event Plan. For example, a state sporting carnival with less than 500 participants on the Saturday fixture and another group of less than 500 patrons on the Sunday fixture.

When calculating your patron cap based on the 2 sqm rule, you must consider only the usable space where patrons can practice physical distancing.

Who is responsible for completing and submitting a COVID Event Plan?

The person responsible for submitting the event application to the Local Government Authority is also responsible for submitting a COVID Event Plan. This person is referred to as the applicant.

A COVID Event Plan may be completed by the applicant, venue owner, event organiser, site manager or it may be outsourced to a third party.

How do I submit my COVID Event Plan?

COVID Event Plans need to be submitted to the relevant Local Government Authority where the event is proposed to be held, along with all other documentation.

Who will approve my COVID Event Plan?

COVID Event Plans considered low or medium risk will be assessed and approved by an Environmental Health Officer within your Local Government Authority, as an extension of the usual events approval process. All high risk COVID Event Plans will be escalated by the Environmental Health Officer to the Department of Health for further review/approval.

How long before my event do I need to submit my COVID Event Plan?

Check with your Local Government Authority to establish how long they require for approvals to be processed.

High risk COVID Event Plans must be submitted to the Department of Health by local government (on behalf of the event organiser) a minimum of 3 weeks prior to the event being held. COVID Event Plans will be assessed in order of the received date. As such, event organisers are encouraged to submit their COVID Event Plans to local government as soon as possible. Plans submitted less than 3 weeks prior to an event will not be reviewed and the event cannot proceed.

This lead time ensures that the Department of Health and Chief Health Officer have enough time to review each COVID Event Plan, the event organiser has sufficient time to implement appropriate risk mitigation strategies, the local government can finalise the event application and WA Police can allocate required resources for approved events.

If I complete a COVID Event Plan, do I also need to register my event with the Department of Health?

Yes. From 11.59pm on 24 September 2020, all event organisers will be required to register events that require a COVID Event Plan through the WA Health website.

Alternatively, event details can be emailed to: Public.Events@health.wa.gov.au.

Registration will ensure authorities are aware of all proposed events of this size, and how they may likely impact on emergency and health resources.

Register at the Department of Health website.

What if our event involves multiple Local Government Authorities (such as a community fun run)?

If your event involves more than 500 participants, it is likely that you will need to submit a COVID Event Plan to each Local Government Authority where additional approval is required. It is recommended that one overarching Plan be developed for the entire event to ensure all relevant information is contained in a single document. This will be a requirement for all high risk COVID Event Plans escalated to the Department of Health for review.

While some parts of the plan may be relevant to one jurisdiction only and this may need to be highlighted to the Local Government Authority when applying for approval. For example, a start and finish line of a fun run, presenting different risks, may occur in different Local Government areas.

What makes an event high risk?

There are a range of factors that can increase the COVID-19 transmission risk level associated with an event. However, each event is considered on an individual basis as there are often strategies that can be put in place to reduce these risks.

Generally, a higher number of patrons, increased duration of event, indoor only venues, activities that lead to difficulty maintaining physical distancing (for example, mosh pits, dance floors, bouncy castles), common use of shared equipment, presence of alcohol and/or drugs, inability to contact trace patrons and ongoing mixing of people who do not know each other are all factors that increase the COVID-19 transmission risk level.

Is there any cost in having my COVID Event Plan assessed?

There is no cost in having your COVID Event Plan assessed. Local Government Authorities may require a fee for the normal event application process.

Can my event application be refused?

Yes. All high risk COVID Event Plans will be escalated to the Department of Health, to determine whether appropriate risk mitigation strategies have been put in place to allow the event to proceed safely. If the risk to public health remains too high, the COVID Event Plan will not be approved and the event will not be permitted to proceed.

What is the difference between a COVID Safety Plan and a COVID Event Plan?

Businesses that were closed under previous COVID restrictions (and are now considered Formerly Affected Places), are required to complete a COVID Safety Plan before being permitted to reopen. These plans do not require a formal approval process.

A COVID Event Plan is required for events involving more than 500 patrons that also require local government approval under existing legislation to proceed. COVID Event Plans need to be approved before an event can proceed and are enforceable.

If I have already developed a COVID Safety Plan, do I also need a COVID Event Plan?

You do not require a COVID Event Plan for business-as-usual activities that your premises are already permitted to undertake under existing local government approval.

A COVID Event Plan is required, in addition to a COVID Safety Plan, if an event is proposed for more than 500 patrons AND requires additional Local Government Authority approval to proceed (for example, a venue applying for an extended trading permit through the Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor, or requesting a greater number of patrons than a public building approval permits).

Will a template and guidance be available to help me develop a COVID Event Plan?

Yes, a COVID Event Plan template and COVID Event Guidelines are available. The COVID Event Guidelines are provided to assist event organisers in this process and should be referred to closely when developing a COVID Event Plan.

Do I need to keep a contact register?

Maintaining a contact register is an extra safety measure and one of the most effective ways to ensure rapid contact tracing to control the spread of COVID-19 in the event a case is detected in the community.

Ticketing of events is encouraged wherever possible, as this provides an efficient means of collecting contact registration details for patrons. The ticketing process should facilitate the collection of the minimum required contact information for each attendee. Where ticketing is not possible, event organisers are strongly encouraged to implement a contact register system to facilitate contact tracing.

What is a COVID Safety Marshal?

A COVID Safety Marshal is an individual/s nominated or employed by the event organiser who is responsible for monitoring that the public health measures specified in the COVID Event Plan are implemented and maintained.

COVID Safety Marshals need to be over the age of 18 years, will be required to wear a distinctive clothing/lanyard that ensures they are easily identifiable and will need to complete the appropriate government training. Marshals must have a thorough knowledge of the COVID Event Plan and encourage adherence to its requirements but will play no formal enforcement role. If any enforcement action is required, this should be escalated to WA Police.

The criteria and role of a COVID Safety Marshal is further outlined in the COVID Event Guidelines.

Who will decide whether my event must have COVID Safety Marshals and how many will I need?

Event organisers should identify the need for, and number of, COVID Safety Marshals required in their COVID Event Plan. It is anticipated that low risk, and some medium risk, events are unlikely to need COVID Safety Marshals. The approving authority will then assess whether this is appropriate for the proposed event. This decision will be based on a review of individual COVID Event Plans. If COVID Safety Marshals have not been included in a Plan but are deemed necessary, the approving authority may assign a condition requiring their presence.

What training does a COVID Safety Marshal require?

COVID Safety Marshals will be required to undertake the Australian Government COVID-19 infection control training. COVID Safety Marshals will also need to have a thorough knowledge of all requirements of the COVID Event Plan.

Who should be contacted to enforce COVID Event Plans?

For all enforcement requirements, contact WA Police on 131 444. Police have the authority to enforce actions contained within an approved COVID Event Plan and take other action necessary to maintain the public health and safety of the community.

Are music festivals allowed?

COVID Event Plans for music festivals will be assessed on an individual basis. It is anticipated that music festivals will fall into the high risk category and will be escalated to the Department of Health for further review. If the approving officer is satisfied that strategies have been put in place to sufficiently reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, the COVID Event Plan may be approved. Any existing Local Government Authority approvals will also be required in order to conduct the event. Additional requirements for music festivals have been outlined in the COVID Event Guidelines.

Can I have amusement rides and bouncy castles at my event?

There is currently nothing to prevent event organisers proposing to include rides and inflatable-style amusements (for example, bouncy castles and inflatable obstacles) at their event. However, some rides and inflatables can lead to difficulty in maintaining physical distancing and a satisfactory cleaning regime. COVID Event Plans should specifically address the risk mitigation strategies associated with this issue. If the risk is considered too high, then the COVID Event Plan may not be approved.

Can I have a stage, mosh pit or dance floor at my event?

Some restrictions have been placed on the presence of stages, mosh pits and dance floors at events, as they are often associated with crowds congregating in very close proximity, making it difficult to maintain physical distancing. Mosh pits are not permitted. Stages are generally not permitted for events with more than 1,500 patrons, unless the event is seated or the performance is for the purposes of ambient music only. Refer to the COVID Event Guidelines for more information.

Can I hold an event featuring talent from interstate or overseas?

You should be mindful of restrictions on interstate travel and note approval of an event in no way guarantees, supports or endorses the entry of an individual to WA if there are restrictions on travel. For information about WA’s interstate border, visit the Controlled interstate borders page. WA’s interstate border controls will be constantly reviewed and are subject to change, depending on the latest health advice.

Australia’s international border is closed. The Commonwealth Government is responsible for the international border. There are strict border measures in place to protect the health of the community and people cannot come to Australia unless they are in an exempt category or have been granted an individual exemption to the current travel restrictions. International travellers will not be permitted entry WA for the purposes of performing or working at an event.

For more information about Australia’s international border, visit the Department of Home Affairs website.

Can I serve alcohol at my event?

There is nothing to prevent you from serving alcohol at your event, in compliance with your liquor licence. However, when a crowd is intoxicated, it becomes difficult to enforce physical distancing and other risk mitigation strategies, so this will need to be addressed in your COVID Event Plan. Some restrictions to the length of time in which alcohol can be served at an event may be set for high risk events, in order for the risk to be adequately reduced and a COVID Event Plan to be approved. Refer to the COVID Event Guidelines for more information.

Will I need a COVID Event Plan for my private gathering (such as a wedding or party)?

A COVID Event Plan will be required if 500 or more people will be attending AND the venue requires additional local government approval for the event to take place.

If your wedding or party is being held at a venue that already has the appropriate building approvals in place to hold events (for example, a hotel or function centre), then it is unlikely you will need a COVID Event Plan. Check with the venue operator or Local Government Authority where you intend to hold your event.

Will I need a COVID Event Plan for our club or school event (such as a fete, quiz night, fundraiser, school ball, graduation or annual dance concert)?

If your event is held at your club or school, involves more than 500 people AND requires additional Local Government Authority approval to host it, you are likely to need a COVID Event Plan. Speak to your Local Government Environmental Health Officer regarding requirements for your individual circumstances.

If your event is being held at an alternative venue (for example, a community hall, function centre or theatre), they are likely to already have the appropriate approvals and a COVID Safety Plan in place. As long as your event doesn’t exceed the number of people the venue has been approved for, and the nature of your event fits within their current building approval, you will not need to develop a COVID Event Plan. In most cases, you will only need to make a venue booking or reserve hire. Contact the person responsible for the venue in the first instance. Your local government may also be able to provide you with advice.

Do we need a COVID Event Plan for our business-as-usual activities run by our club or association (such as regular training, games, fixtures or gatherings)?

You do not require a COVID Event Plan for your business-as-usual activities if you already have a COVID Safety Plan AND the appropriate approvals in place.

A COVID Event Plan is only required if you are holding an event with more than 500 patrons AND your event requires additional Local Government Authority approval to take place. For example, large carnivals, regional or state championships, community fun runs and open water swims, and use of large marquees.

Where can I go to get more information?

Event organisers can contact the Local Government Authority where the event is intended to be held. Members of the general public who are hiring a venue should discuss what COVID Plans are in place with the venue owner/operator. The local government may also be able to provide you with more information.

Page reviewed 15 January 2021