Western Australia introduces new requirements for 500-plus events

Events in Western Australia of more than 500 people that require a local government authority approval will need COVID-safe guidelines and plans going forward.

Similar to the industry-specific COVID safety guidelines and plans first introduced in May, the WA government said the COVID event guidelines and plans have been introduced to ensure a safer and more confident return to events for organisers and attendees.

A COVID event plan will not be required for events that form part of the usual business of places for which there is an existing public building approval.

From 25 September 2020, a public or private event involving more than 500 patrons that requires local government authority approval will need an approved COVID event plan as part of that process.

The COVID event plans will need to consider and identify public health measures to ensure the safety of patrons including physical distancing requirements, hygiene and cleaning regimes, and staff management.

As a result of the new system, music festivals could be approved, pending assessment of plans by the WA’s Department of Health.

As part of a COVID event plan, organisers may also need to designate employees as COVID safety marshals to monitor that the public health measures in the plan are implemented.

All events will be subject to the provision of a minimum of two square metres per person in the areas where patrons are permitted.

According to the WA government, COVID event plans will be approved through the relevant local government authority. However, if an event is deemed ‘high risk’, it may be referred to the Department of Health for a decision by an authorised officer.

High-risk factors may include large patron numbers, increased duration of the event, indoor-only events, activities that lead to difficulty in maintaining physical distancing (mosh pits, dance floors, jumping castles), presence of alcohol or illicit drugs, inability to contract trace patrons, and ongoing mixing of people who do not know each other.

The WA government noted that COVID event plans must be approved prior to the event taking place. If the risk to public health remains too high, a COVID event plan may not be approved and therefore the event will not take place.

Organisers are required to register their event on the Department of Health Events Register. More information can be found here.

Commenting on the state’s new event requirements, WA Premier Mark McGowan said: “Heading into the summer events season, it is crucial we continue to maintain our high standard of preparedness and take the necessary steps to protect our community.

“Thanks to our success, we can see more and more events in WA as the weather warms up, but we can’t get complacent.

“We need to ensure we support businesses and jobs, while also mitigating any potential risk of COVID-19 transmission. Doing so will enable us to continue to open up the economy more and proceed with many events we love to enjoy.

“Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been world-leading, and puts us in prime position to enjoy a vibrant Western Australian summer, which regularly sees events like community fetes, festivals and fairs pop up.

“Western Australians should feel confident going out in the community and attending these events knowing their safety is a top priority.”

WA Health Minister Roger Cook said: “As we know, COVID-19 is unpredictable. Ensuring the health and safety of all Western Australians remains at the forefront of everything we do.

“Approval of COVID event plans ensure the community and patrons of the event that sensible public health measures will be adhered to, and also ensures confidence the event will proceed in a manner prioritising public health.

“The requirement for COVID event plans provides the community with extra assurance that any event they attend in WA requiring local government approval is able to comply with public health measures.”

Featured image source: iStock/chrissmith731