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Public events – information for organisers

Information to help organisers of public events in Victoria meet safety requirements during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Public events framework

COVIDSafe public events

During COVIDSafe Summer, Victorians are able to gather in larger numbers at approved organised events.

Public events often have a significant number of people in a defined and confined space. They can involve a broad range of activities including food and beverage service, entertainment, networking, or mass participation of attendees.

With many people moving around and interacting with each other, events present a high risk related to the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). Events should be managed in line with COVIDSafe principles to help slow the spread of the virus.

Event and venue organisers must:

  • reinforce current Victorian Government mask wearing requirements in indoor settings and where physical distancing is not possible
  • keep records of all attendees for contract tracing
  • seek any opportunity to create additional zones to reduce mixing of patrons and staff for Tier 1 events with more than 5000 people

Ahead of your event, remind ticket holders that they must abide by the latest public health advice. Where a ticket holder has been instructed to quarantine by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), please work with your electronic ticketing provider to provide a refund or transfer the ticket to another person.

During your event, you must communicate to patrons that they are not permitted to be at the event if they have been instructed to quarantine by DHHS.

Be aware of the latest DHHS coronavirus (COVID-19) updates.

What is a public event?

The Victorian Chief Health Officer’s Directions (the Directions) define a public event as:

An organised public gathering for a common purpose which is conducted on a one-off or periodic basis, open to members of the public, publicly announced or advertised, and may be subject to specific licenses, approvals or permits.

The Directions contain restrictions that relate to public and private gatherings at different types of venues, including venues that may ordinarily hold events as part of their business-as-usual operations.

This definition in the Directions creates a distinction between the ordinary activities of people and venues regulated by the Directions, and a proposed public event subject to consideration under the Public Events Framework.

Public event examples include exhibitions, sporting events, festivals, fairs, parades, performances and trade shows.

Note: The event organiser must continue to apply for and comply with all required licences, approvals and local government permits where applicable.

A public event is not:

  • an ad-hoc public gathering in a public place
  • a private or public gathering of members of the public in a facility, venue, indoor space or outdoor space for ordinary, day-to-day operations, use, activities or services
  • a private gathering, such as a wedding, funeral or end of life activity, or
  • a routine religious gathering or ceremony

The Stay Safe Directions (Victoria) and Restricted Activity Directions (Victoria) continue to apply to these gatherings.

Attendee limits and density requirements

During COVIDSafe Summer, there is a phased resumption of public events, including attendee limits and density requirements for various venue types. This reflects the current conditions in Victoria and other Australian states, along with national and international advice for mass gatherings.

During COVIDSafe Summer, the Public Events Framework allows larger gatherings of people at public events. The first phases allow for seated events, before later progressing to standing and roaming events if the progress of restrictions allows. There are different attendee caps for outdoor and indoor settings, with the total attendees per event limited in each phase.

Criteria for moving forward in phases

COVIDSafe Summer (Public event phase 1)

Current phase from 11:59pm on 6 December

COVIDSafe Summer (Public event phase 2)

Gradual easing of restrictions on a 14 day basis subject to public health advice

COVIDSafe Summer (Public event phase 3)

Gradual easing of restrictions on a 14 day basis subject to public health advice

Gradual easing of these restrictions to the next phase, is subject to public health advice and is expected to be reviewed in January 2021, on a 14 day basis.

Venue requirements for COVIDSafe Summer and phases

COVIDSafe Summer (Public event phase 1)
  • 75% of the venue’s seating capacity, up to a maximum of 5,000 people seated.
  • Density limit of one person per two square metres applies to non-fixed seated areas – for example, grassed areas. Electronic record keeping such as QR codes must be used to allow for contact tracing.
  • Tier 3 events (with fewer than 1000 people) can permit some standing and roaming as per the Restricted Activity Directions
  • Tier 1 and 2 events (with more than 1000) people must be seated only
COVIDSafe Summer (Public event phase 2)
  • 75% of the venue’s seating capacity, up to a maximum of 25,000 people seated.
  • Density limit of one person per two square metres applies to non-fixed seated areas – for example grassed areas. QR codes must be used to check-in for these events.
  • Allocated seated events only. Free-standing events not permitted, unless permitted under the Restricted Activity Directions.
COVIDSafe Summer (Public event phase 3)
  • Gradual return of up to 100% of the venue’s seated capacity
  • Gradual return of free-standing events

Requirements from public event organisers

COVIDSafe Event Plan submitted for review and approval for Tier 1 and Tier 2 events.

COVIDSafe Event Checklist uploaded and published online for Tier 3 events.

Note – limits on attendee numbers at public events apply to each day of the event, and include children older than 12 months, but do not include the staff required to run the event.

Approvals and requirements for organisers of public events

If you are planning a public event in Victoria, it is your legal responsibility to ensure that you are designing a COVIDSafe event in accordance with current public health advice.

All public events must comply with the requirements of the Public Events Framework, including the attendee limits and density requirements. Depending on the scale and risk involved in running the public event, the event organiser must seek approval from the Victorian Government to run the event.

The Victorian Government has established a process to review and approve events, ensuring public event organisers consider the appropriate infection prevention controls and public health advice as part of their planning and delivery of events.

Tiered approach for assessing public events

Public events will be assessed according to the size, complexity and associated risk factors. A three-tiered categorisation system is used to ensure the appropriate level of public health oversight is applied.

Public health risk factors for events

Factors that can increase the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission at an event are:

  1. The event is primarily held indoors
  2. The event includes unallocated seating
  3. Alcohol is served at the event
  4. There is extensive singing, chanting or cheering amongst attendees during the event
  5. There is close physical interaction between attendees and/or participants, where they may not be able to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres between them for short periods of time
  6. The event is held over multiple successive days with different attendees each day
  7. The event is actively promoted interstate and is therefore likely to attract interstate attendees

Tier 1 events

Criteria

  • events with 5000 or more attendees
  • events with 1000 to 5000 attendees that involve six or more public health risk factors for events.

Requirements

  • Tier 1 events must submit a COVIDSafe Event Plan to the Victorian Government for public health approval.
  • Tier 1 events must submit a plan 8-10 weeks before the start of the event.

Tier 2 events

Criteria

  • events with 1000 to 5000 attendees 
  • no more than five public health risk factors

Requirements

  • Tier 2 events must submit a COVIDSafe Event Plan to the Victorian Government for public health approval.
  • Tier 2 events must submit a plan 4-6 weeks before the start of the event.

Tier 3 events

Criteria

  • events with 1,000 or fewer attendees per event.
  • risk factors do not apply

Requirements

  • Tier 3 events must complete and submit a COVIDSafe Event Checklist to the Victorian Government to register the event.
  • Tier 3 events must submit the COVIDSafe Event Checklist at least one week before the start of the event.

Liability and indemnity

You control and accept sole responsibility, risk and liability for all aspects of your public event. You must conduct your own investigations, assessments and interpretations and seek independent professional advice on all aspects of your public event.

The State of Victoria does not control and accepts no liability for your public event nor for any loss, damage, injury or death in connection with your public event, including (without limitation), any change to requirements for your public event or the cancellation or postponement of your public event.

You will indemnify the State of Victoria against any liability to or claims by a third party for any loss, damage, injury or death in connection with your public event, including (without limitation), the cancellation or postponement of your public event.

Consultation, review, assessment and approval process

To the extent permitted by law, the State of Victoria excludes liability for any loss, damage, injury or death caused by use of or reliance on any consultation, review, assessment or approval process in connection with your public event.

The State of Victoria may amend or withdraw from the consultation, review, assessment or approval process at any time without notice.

The State of Victoria may amend or withdraw any consultation, review, assessment or approval at any time without notice.

You will not be relieved from compliance with any of your obligations at law as a result of:

  • any consultation, review, assessment, or approval (or failure to consult, review, assess, or approve) or any other act or omission by the State of Victoria in connection with your public event (including, without limitation, any failure by the State of Victoria to detect any errors, inaccuracies, mistakes, non-compliances or omissions in connection with your public event)
  • your implementation of and compliance with the COVIDSafe Event Plan for your public event

Frequently asked questions

What is the current phase for public events? When will we move to the next phase?

Public event phase 1 is currently in place. Gradual easing of these restrictions to the next phase, is subject to public health advice and is expected to be reviewed in January 2021, on a 14 day basis. This phased approach reflects the current conditions in Victoria and other Australian states, along with national and international advice for mass gatherings.

What is a private event?

A private event is a gathering limited to family and friends, and members or guests of an organisation or club, within the relevant venue or gathering limits and where the event is not open to the general public, and where food, beverages and entertainment are provided without the organisers seeking compensation.

The Public Events Framework does not apply to private events.

The Stay Safe Directions (Victoria) and Restricted Activity Directions (Victoria) continue to apply to these types of gatherings.

What are examples of private events?

Examples of a private event include:

  • an ad hoc public gathering in a public place 
  • a private or public gathering of members of the public in a facility, venue, indoor space or outdoor space for ordinary, day-to-day operations, use, activities or services such as a function centre, a community basketball stadium or a rehearsal space for a dance company
  • a private gathering, such as a wedding reception, funeral or end of life activity, or   
  • a routine religious gathering or ceremony

What is a public event for the purposes of the Public Events Framework?

A public event is an organised public gathering for a common purpose on a profit or not-for-profit basis which is conducted on a one-off or periodic basis, open to members of the public, publicly announced or advertised, and may be subject to specific licences, approvals or permits. Organisers of any type of public event will be required to develop a COVIDSafe Event Plan or complete a COVIDSafe Event Checklist

What are some examples of a public event?

Examples of a public event include:

  • one-off or periodic exhibitions
  • business functions
  • sporting events
  • festivals
  • fairs or parades
  • live performances, for example, concerts, comedy shows or a music event at a winery
  • speaking events
  • conferences
  • trade shows

Why is the Victorian Government involved in planning for public events?

During COVIDSafe Summer, eased restrictions are enabling Victorians to gather in larger numbers and attend organised events.

To support the safe return of public events of all sizes, the Victorian Government has established the Public Events Framework process to support event organisers in planning and delivering COVIDSafe events. 

How does the public events approval process work?

Public events will be subject to different government approval processes depending on the size and risk factors associated with the event. Public events will be categorised into Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 events.

Tier 1 events are of substantial scale and complexity and pose a high risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission. They have more than 5,000 attendees and require an approved COVIDSafe Event Plan before they can proceed. This includes sign-off by the Victorian Chief Health Officer, Minister for Health and Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events.

Tier 2 events are of moderate complexity and risk, with between 1,000 and 5,000 attendees. These events will also require an approved COVIDSafe Event Plan before they can proceed.

Tier 3 events are the lowest risk events, with fewer than 1,000 people. These events will require a COVIDSafe Event Checklist before they can proceed.

What is a COVIDSafe Event Plan?

A COVIDSafe Event Plan is a comprehensive document that sets out how Tier 1 and Tier 2 public events will be managed to reduce the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) among attendees and staff.

Further guidance on the key areas to address in a COVIDSafe Event Plan and the template is available on the Victorian Government’s Coronavirus website.

What is a COVIDSafe Event Checklist?

The COVIDSafe Event Checklist enables Tier 3 event organisers to consider and implement controls to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

Does my COVIDSafe Event Checklist need to be approved by the Victorian Government?

No, COVIDSafe Event Checklists do not need to be approved by the Victorian Government. However, organisers of Tier 3 events need to complete and upload their COVIDSafe Event Checklist to the Victorian Government’s Coronavirus website. You can use this questionnaire to find out what the requirements are for your event.

Does my COVIDSafe Event Plan need to be approved by the Victorian Government?

Yes, all Tier 1 and Tier 2 events will require a COVIDSafe Event Plan approved by the Victorian Government.

Who will review the COVIDSafe Event Plan?

A panel of public health experts, trained in infectious diseases, infection control and contact tracing, will review each COVIDSafe Event Plan. The Victorian Chief Health Officer, Minister for Health and Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events will also review the COVIDSafe Event Plans as part of the approval process.

What does ‘risk profile’ mean when talking about a public event?

There are seven key risk factors which might elevate a Tier 2 event as higher risk and determine if the event should be classified as Tier 1, regardless of the number of attendees:

  • Is the event primarily held indoors?
  • Does the event include unallocated seating?
  • Is alcohol served at the event?
  • Is there extensive singing, chanting, cheering or exhaling amongst attendees during the event?
  • Is there close physical interaction between attendees and participants where they may not be able to maintain 1.5 metre distance between them for short periods of time?
  • Is the event held over multiple successive days with different attendees each day?
  • Is the event actively promoted interstate and is therefore likely to attract interstate attendees?

Find a self-assessment tool for event organisers to determine the appropriate categorisation of their event.

How many people can I have at my event?

The number of attendees allowed at an event is based on conditions such as whether the event is indoors or outdoors, and whether patrons and participants are stationary or roaming. During Phase 1 of COVIDSafe Summer, 75 per cent of a seated, allocated venue up to 5,000 people can attend an event. When Victoria moves to Phase 2 of COVIDSafe Summer, the Public Events Framework will permit 75 per cent capacity up to 25,000 people.

The relevant information on patron caps can be found in the Public Events Framework.

The Public Events Framework will be reviewed and updated periodically to reflect the latest advice from the Victorian Chief Health Officer.

Are mass participation events (such as fun runs) included in the Public Events Framework?

Yes, mass participation events fall within the definition of a public event.

Does my event need to be ticketed?

Ticketed events are strongly encouraged for contact tracing purposes. Record-keeping is mandatory for all events, therefore if your event is usually un-ticketed (such as attendees at a cycling or triathlon event, or patrons at a free cultural festival) you must ensure processes are in place to register and identify who and where the attendees are at your event. QR code registration systems are recommended. 

How long will it take for my event to be assessed?

Events will be assessed as quickly as possible. Larger, more complex public events may take longer to approve. Following the guidance information, reading the FAQs and ensuring your COVID Safe Event Plan or COVIDSafe Event Checklist is comprehensive will assist the approval process.

Your COVIDSafe Event Plan must be submitted to the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions Events team (required for Tier 1 and Tier 2 events), at least six to eight weeks ahead of your event for Tier 1 events, and at least four to six weeks for Tier 2 events.

For Tier 3 events, your COVIDSafe Event Checklist must be submitted at least one week ahead of your event.

I am a venue owner or operator. Do I need a COVIDSafe Event Plan?

If your event complies with the Restricted Activity Directions (Victoria) and you have a COVIDSafe Plan, you no longer need to apply to the Public Events Framework. However, if your venue is holding a public event outside of your ordinary, day-to-day operations, use, activities or services, the event organiser will be required to complete a COVIDSafe Event Plan or a COVIDSafe Event Checklist. Use the self-assessment tool.

If you are both the venue operator and the organiser, then both a COVIDSafe Plan and a COVIDSafe Event plan are required.

What is the difference between the events I normally run as part of my business and an eligible public event?

If public gatherings are part of routine operations (for example, community basketball games occurring indoors at a stadium), you will need to ensure these activities run within the relevant venue restrictions (including observing density limits) and that you have a COVIDSafe Plan. If you are holding a one-off event or something that happens periodically (for example, an annual conference) you will need a COVIDSafe Event Plan in addition to the COVIDSafe Plan for your business or venue.

I run intermittent public events outside of my normal activities. Do I need a COVIDSafe Event Plan for each one?

Whether your intermittent events will need a separate COVIDSafe Event Plan for each will be decided by the Major Events Ministerial Taskforce. That decision is made based on your application, and whether there are significant differences between the events such as scale, length and other risk factors. Please indicate in your application whether your event is a one-off or intermittent event and provide details on each event.

I am organising an event across multiple venues. How does this work with the Public Events Framework?

Your event will need to have an overall COVIDSafe Event Plan for the entire festival – not necessarily for each individual venue. However, the plan will need to include COVIDSafe measures for each venue and each site’s venue operator will be required to have a COVIDSafe Plan.

Depending on the size and risk factors associated with the event, each individual venue will be assessed by the Victorian Government.

Do I need to develop a COVIDSafe Event Plan if I am organising a public demonstration?

Yes. A planned public demonstration is a public event for the purposes of the Public Events Framework. Organisers of a planned public demonstration will need to develop a COVIDSafe Event Plan or COVID Safe Event Checklist and take the necessary public health measures to ensure their event is safe for people attending.

Do attendees need to wear face masks at an event?

If your event is being held indoors, yes. From 5pm on 31 December 2020, fitted face masks must be worn in public indoor spaces unless you have a lawful reason not to. It is strongly recommended that you wear a face mask outdoors when you are unable to stay more than 1.5 metres from other people, such as transport stops, busy walkways and thoroughfares. Regularly check the latest information on face masks https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/face-masks.

What does allocated or fixed seating mean?

Allocated or fixed seating means dedicated seats for patrons which cannot be moved during the event. These can be existing or hired and brought in specifically for the event. An event is defined as free-standing if attendees do not have an allocated seat.

What rules apply if my event is held both indoors and outdoors?

There are different requirements for both indoor and outdoor events, including capped patron numbers. Refer to the Public Events Framework for further information.

How does the new Public Events Framework interact with the existing Restricted Activity Directions for facilities, venues and activities?

Should your event meet the definition of an eligible public event, the Public Events Framework will apply. If it does not, then you will need to comply with the Restricted Activity Directions for your facility, venue or activity. 

Will I need extra staff to run a COVIDSafe event?

It is likely that extra resources will be needed, including the appointment of a COVIDSafe Marshal (or a group of COVIDSafe Marshals) to oversees all elements and assess compliance with the COVIDSafe Event Plan. The COVIDSafe Marshal is a new and important role, aimed at ensuring workplaces are COVIDSafe at all times and has been used effectively in high-risk industries and workplaces to monitor staff, contractors and patrons. 

My COVIDSafe Event Plan has been approved by the Victorian Government. Does this mean they are responsible for my event?

No. The event and the safety of employees and patrons is solely the responsibility of the event organiser. You will not be relieved from compliance with any of your obligations at law as a result of:

  • any consultation, review, assessment, or approval (or failure to consult, review, assess, or approve) or any other act or omission by the State of Victoria in connection with your public event (including, without limitation, any failure by the State of Victoria to detect any errors, inaccuracies, mistakes, non-compliances or omissions in connection with your public event)
  • your implementation of and compliance with the COVIDSafe Event Plan for your public event

What compliance measures will be in place to ensure event organisers do the right thing?

Event organisers will need to demonstrate that they are doing what is reasonably practicable to comply with all public health directions during COVIDSafe Summer. This includes but is not limited to record-keeping for contact tracing purposes, signage, handwashing facilities, ensuring physical distancing, applying density limits, and training to identify and address non-compliant behaviour.

The Victorian Government may also conduct spot checks on events to ensure compliance with their COVIDSafe Event Plan. Any breaches in behaviour can be reported to the COVID Marshals at your event or escalated to the relevant government enforcement agency if behaviours are not managed. There will be significant penalties for failing to ensure a safe, compliant event.

What if I am still unsure if my event requires a COVIDSafe Event Plan (Tier 1 or Tier 2) or a COVIDSafe Event Checklist (Tier 3)?

If you have read this document and the Public Events Framework and are still unsure whether your gathering is a public event or what type of planning is needed, you can log your question by emailing COVIDSafeEvents@ecodev.vic.gov.au

How do I determine if my event is compliant with the Restricted Activity Directions (RAD) or if it is required to follow the Public Events Framework (PEF)?

To determine whether your event is compliant with the Restricted Activity Directions (Victoria), refer to clause 8 (Entertainment facilities). The document is available to download from the DHHS website.

If your event involves fewer than 1000 attendees, and your event is compliant with the Restricted Activity Directions (Victoria), then your business or organisation can operate your event so long as you have a COVIDSafe Plan in place. In this case, you do not need to apply under the Public Events Framework.

If your event has more than 1000 attendees, or it would not comply with the Restricted Activity Directions (Victoria), then you must follow the process outlined in the COVID-19 Public Events Framework.

I am organising a business event, do I follow the Restricted Activity Directions (RAD) or the Public Events Framework (PEF)?

If your event involves 1,000 attendees or fewer, and your event is compliant with the Restricted Activity Directions (Victoria), then you can operate your business event with a COVIDSafe Plan in place. In this case, you do not need to apply under the Public Events Framework.

If your event has more than 1000 attendees, or it would not comply with the Restricted Activity Directions (Victoria), then you must follow the process outlined in the COVID-19 Public Events Framework.

Can I submit one Plan for an event ‘type’ that can be used across multiple events?

Event organisers can submit a COVIDSafe Event Plan that covers a season or series of events.

A new submission will be required if the venue is hosting an event that deviates from the approved COVIDSafe Event Plan.

For example, if your approved COVIDSafe Event Plan covers seated concerts and the venue is seeking to host a concert with general admission (non-seated) ticketing, a revised COVIDSafe Event Plan is required as there are different coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission risks.

Do mass participation events need to comply with the Restricted Activity Directions (RAD) or the Public Events Framework (PEF)?

If your mass participation event has fewer than 1,000 participants and can run in accordance with the current Restricted Activities Direction requirements for community sport, then the event can proceed with a COVIDSafe Event Checklist.

If your mass participation event requires additional allowances than permitted in the Restricted Activities Direction, or has greater than 1,000 participants, the event will need to follow the Public Events Framework approval process.

For ticketed events how much movement from the seat is allowed?

Attendees must remain in their allocated seat for the duration of the event, wherever possible. They may leave their seat to access facilities, such as the bathroom, first aid or food and drink outlets. When moving between their seat and facilities, patrons must use a direct path for their journey and avoid stopping at any time.

Can I host multiple sessions of the same event in one day?

A venue can host multiple event sessions on one day. Patron limits apply to the maximum number of people allowed in any given session. Cleaning must be undertaken between sessions in accordance with the DHHS cleaning guidance.

I’m organising a market. Am I required to submit a COVIDSafe Event Plan?

If the market is a regular activity for the venue, the market may operate in line with the Workplace Directions and Stay Safe Directions relating to retail activity. If the market is a one-off activity, for example, a Christmas market that operates in a venue that is not regularly used for this purpose, a COVIDSafe Event Checklist (for 1,000 or fewer attendees) or a COVIDSafe Event Plan (for more than 1,000 attendees) will be required.

I’m holding a fireworks display. Am I required to submit a COVIDSafe Event Plan?

A public firework display falls within the definition of a public event and would need to follow the requirements under the Public Events Framework. The COVIDSafe Event Plan or COVIDSafe Event Checklist for this event should cover the primary viewing area of the fireworks (for example, an oval or park where the fireworks are to be let off), however you may also want to consider any other potential congregation points people may view the display from. 

Reviewed 25 January 2021

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