Revealed: Covid status checks are required at most Harrogate big shows already
The Prime Minister's threat of Covid passports for events, just as the Harrogate arts sector is reopening,may have come as a surprise but the fact is Covid status checks are already happening for bigger shows in the town.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s warning this week that a vaccine passport plan may be required as part of its winter ‘Plan B’ to tackle Covid and protect the NHS has played badly with the town’s cultural scene and smaller venues.
Simon Colgan, co-owner of the Blues Bar, Harrogate’s only seven-days-a-week live venue, said customers were desperate for the return to normality to hold.
Mr Colgan said: “The vast part of my customer base is older. I don’t know anyone who isn’t double-jabbed. What I am hearing from them is “don’t restrict us when it’s not necessary, let’s just get on with things”.
In theory, att the moment, each venue in Harrogate must decide for itself the approach to take on Covid security.
But, even before the Government’s ‘Plan B’ turns from threat to reality, larger venues in Harrogate such as the Royal Hall have introduced significant entry requirements at shows to protect audiences, including proof of Covid vaccination.
Harrogate Convention Centre confirmed that, in order to maintain the highest safety standards and live up to events industry protocols, it had implemented the ‘All Secure Standard’ guidelines as set out by the Association of Event Venues (AEV).
It also admitted that most up-coming shows at the venue and the Royal Hall would involve Covid status checks upon entry.
But Michael Constantine, Head of Operations at Harrogate Convention Centre, said he was confident that the strict measures were offering reassurance to customers attending events.
He said: “We’re working extremely hard with event organisers to ensure that the health and safety of visitors is paramount.
“It’s been pleasing to get such positive feedback from the first few events, with many reporting not only excitement about the return of live events but also that visitors felt safe while attending.”
Harrogate Convention Centre on Covid rules at big shows: Statement in full
Since April, Harrogate Convention Centre has completed a major conversion back to its original use following the removal of the 500-bed NHS Nightingale Hospital. The venue team worked tirelessly to return the venue to how it was and also made some significant improvements.
As well as sanitisation stations and deep cleans throughout, we've performed upgrades to mechanical and electrical, repainted the exhibition halls, and installed new carpets in six of the event spaces. The air conditioning now draws only fresh air from the outside, so no air from the event space is reticulated, an essential factor following the pandemic. Although wearing a face mask is now a personal choice, we've installed signage to request all visitors continue to wear a face-covering if they can.
We continue to work closely with professional event organisers, industry trade associations, and event suppliers to deliver best practices to ensure the safe return to live events to Harrogate since restrictions on large gatherings were lifted over the summer.
Together with our clients, we're implementing the 'All Secure Standard' guidelines as set out by the Association of Event Venues (AEV), Association of Event Organisers (AEO), Events Supplier and Services Association (ESSA). All work has been approved by UK government.
The All Secure Standard v 2.0 requires different levels of protocol depending on the countries Covid-19 status at the time of the event.
Level five (red) - a "material risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed"
Level four - a high or rising level of transmission.
Level three - the virus is in general circulation.
Level two - the number of cases and transmission are low.
Level one (green) - Covid-19 is no longer present in the UK.
The current level 2 and 3 require Covid-19 status checks at entry, but relevant to the event risk profile. Levels 4 and 5 require mandatory Covid-19 status checks at entry. Full details of the AEV All Secure Standard 2.0 can be read here.
The team has also achieved Visit England's 'We're Good To Go' accreditation for the venue. This is the official UK mark to signal that a tourism and hospitality business has worked hard to follow Government and industry COVID-19 guidelines and has a process to maintain cleanliness and aid social distancing.
All events are slightly different in requirement, and specific protocols for entertainment events in the Royal Hall and main Auditorium are being implemented by either the event promoter or venue hirer, typically Harrogate Theatre.
The theatre, in recognition of the ticket holder's desire for Covid-19 safety, requires all visitors to provide proof of vaccination or a negative lateral flow test taken 48 hours before the event.
Full details of all the health and safety practices for the theatre's entertainment events can be read here.