Covid-19: Safer Events

Whilst Quorum is very much a network of individuals, it is first and foremost a business network and we recognise that the vehicle for bringing us all together are the events that we put on. As such, you would be right to question how these events are likely to be impacted by current government guidelines and whether or not our events are within both the letter and the spirit of the new laws. There is confusion in the events world about recent government guidelines, especially relating to whether events are currently legal and, if so, what type and size. The information below sets out what the legislation says as of 22nd September. This is not legal advice – simply our interpretation of what we should be doing next, and how we should strike the balance between the law and the spirit. The short answer to this, is that it is perfectly legal for safe events to be held now. The summary is as follows:

  • COVID-19 secure events can be held and are limited by the guidance (if perhaps not explicitly by the legislation) to 30 people per event
  • This limit of 30 includes everyone involved in the event, including staff that will be in the same room
  • Currently, they must be designed such that social interactions are limited to groups of 6, and only in a Covid-secure venue, operated by a business

There is some new ambiguity relating to a definition of ‘to mingle’, which we will come to later. But essentially, the ball is in our court to carry out business within the rules, and within the spirit.

The Rule of 6

On the 9th September, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced ‘The Rule of 6’ which made most gatherings of more than 6 people illegal. There are three exemptions to this rule, introduced by the most recent legislation on the 14th September. Quorum events are covered under Exemption 2 Qualifying Groups which states that any event which is hosted in a business/charity/public body premises, can hold an event of any size as long as they keep people in groups of 6 that do not mix. They call these groups of 6 ‘qualifying groups’ which they define as so: 

(a) “qualifying group”, in relation to a gathering, means a group of persons who are participating in that gathering and which:
    (i) consists of no more than six persons, or
   (ii) consists of only persons who are members of the same household, or who are members of two households which are linked households in relation          to each other;

(b) A person participates in a gathering as a member of a qualifying group only if they are part of a qualifying group and, whilst participating in the gathering, they do not:
    (i) become a member of any other group of persons participating in the gathering (whether or not that group is a “qualifying group”), or
   (ii) otherwise mingle with any person who is participating in the gathering but is not a member of the same qualifying group as them.

So, it is up to us to design events that only contain groups of 6, which cannot ‘mingle’ with each other. This takes some thought, but is something we are working on closely with Mark’s Club, to ensure that we are fully compliant. We have adopted a workable approach to what ‘mingling’ means as this is not defined in the legislation. Mark’s Club have put the following Covid-19 guidelines in place to ensure they are COVID-19 secure:

  • State of the art thermal imaging camera and temperature check technology (as used in airports) will take temperatures on arrival
  • Guests must wear masks on entry to the Club
  • Seated events only
  • Sanitiser spray bottes will be available on every table – Members may keep these bottles for their use
  • Guests will be required to stay 1-2m apart from staff and other guests
  • Where possible, doors will be propped open to minimise the need to touch door handles and encourage better ventilation
  • Windows will be opened where possible to increase ventilation
  • Air filtration units (99% effective in killing the MRSA and H1N1 viruses, which are part of the same RNA Coronavirus family) have been installed
  • The private dining team will wear gloves and face coverings and all employees will be
    temperature checked upon arrival for every shift which will be logged into a health monitoring app
  • Electro-Static Cleaning technology will be used throughout during the day. This technology kills virus and bacteria particles without causing damage to surfaces or items
  • A deep clean of the Club will take place every night after closure
  • Mark’s Club are required to hold all guests’ contact details for 21 days for Test and Trace, after which this information will be safely destroyed. This information will be required in advance of the event in line with their usual guest list requirements
Furthermore, so far as our breakfast roundtables are concerned, it is worth remembering that Quorum events are held prior to the 10:30 opening of Mark’s Club. This adds an additional layer of safety compared with more public spaces. 

Looking Ahead

The legislation released on the 22nd September did not move the goalposts a huge amount from where we were a fortnight ago, but it was not clear on the limit for business events. We now have confirmation from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport that business  meetings and events for up to 30 people can continue to run.  How long will all this last? According to the legislation, measures will remain in place for the duration of the “emergency period,” which may end at a “time specified in a direction published by the Secretary of State terminating the requirement or restriction.” 

The legislation also states that these restrictions must be reviewed “at least once every 28 days.” However, speaking to parliament on the 22nd of September, Boris Johnson said that these measures could stay in place for 6 months.

We anticipate that this guidance document will undergo revisions as further guidance and operational practices develop over the coming weeks. This guidance should be read in conjunction with the latest government social distancing guidelines and premises closure restrictions.

References: