Public events safety advice

All large public events in the New Forest, including those in aid of charity, must comply with recognised safety standards.

If you are planning to organise a public event, review our event organiser checklist to make sure you are prepared.

You can take advantage of the advice available from the Safety Advisory Group (SAG). This is a group of relevant agencies, including the council, that can help event organisers to ensure that public safety is paramount.

Event types

The SAG will help with all public events, including:

  • fetes and fairs
  • open air concerts and music festivals
  • trade shows
  • horse shows, agricultural shows, dog shows, car or caravan shows
  • open air entertainment including theatre, opera and historic reenactments
  • sporting events
  • cycling events
  • processions, marches, parades and carnivals
  • bonfire and firework displays
  • street parties.

Events during COVID-19

The Government Covid-19 Response - Spring 2021 plan outlines a 4 step roadmap for easing restrictions. It states how the Government and industry representatives are exploring how events with larger crowd sizes and less social distancing can resume safely. Starting in April, the Government will carry out research to include a series of pilots using enhanced testing approaches and other measures to run events with larger crowd sizes and reduced social distancing to evaluate the outcomes. The aim is for a consistent approach to lifting restrictions on events and depending on the outcome of this research, the Government has stated that it hopes to be able to lift restrictions on events no earlier than 21 June 2021.

There are other important dates which will impact events this year and full details of the Government's roadmap are contained in the Covid-19 Response - Spring 2021 plan but we have outlined below the main points from the 4 step plan in relation to events.

Step 1: From 29 March

The majority of outdoor sports and leisure facilities are permitted to open and organised outdoor sports are permitted to take place. People will be able to meet outside in groups up to a maximum of 6 people (the Rule of 6) or with one other household, though people from different households will still need to socially distance from each other. The rules on social contact outdoors will apply in these settings.

Step 2: No earlier than 12 April

Outdoor attractions including outdoor hospitality, such as zoos, theme parks are permitted to open and drive-in cinemas and drive-in performance events permitted to take place. The rules on social contact outdoors will apply in these settings. Outdoor gatherings must still be limited to 6 people or 2 households as in Step 1.

Step 3: No earlier than 17 May

Remaining outdoor entertainment such as outdoor theatres and cinemas will be permitted to open and:

  • controlled indoor events of up to 1,000 people or 50% of a venue's capacity, whichever is lower, will be permitted.
  • outdoor events with a capacity of either 50% or 4,000 people, whichever is lower.
  • Large, outdoor, seated venues where crowds can be safely distributed, allowing up to 10,000 people or 25% of total seated capacity, whichever is lower will be permitted. For example, a football stadium.

At this stage, the Government aims to ease limits on social contact and it will be up to each individual to make informed personal decisions although gatherings of more than 30 people outdoors will remain illegal. COVID-Secure guidance will remain in place and premises must not cater for groups larger than the legal limits.

Step 4: No Earlier than 21 June

Large events to be permitted with higher than the previously set capacities subject to the outcome of the Scientific Events Research Programme and potentially using testing to reduce the risk of infection. This is subject to further evaluation.

It is important to note that these dates are subject to change and depend upon data relating to:

  1. The continued success of the vaccine deployment programme.
  2. Evidence showing vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
  3. Infection rates that do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
  4. The Government's assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.

Notify the SAG of an event

You should notify SAG at the earliest opportunity. You should give at least 3 months notice of your event.

When planning an event involving more than 10,000 people a minimum of 5 months notice should be given.

As well as notifying SAG and sending a copy of your event plan, fire risk assessments and other supporting documents, you will also need to include the following documents to confirm to SAG members how the event will deal with the risks of holding an event during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • A site specific event risk assessment.
  • A COVID-19 risk assessment to take account all of the measures proposed to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19. For example social distancing, washing of hands, and the wearing of masks.
  • Icon for word COVID SAG Event Checklist [37.87KB] which will be used to assess your risk assessment and event plans, to ensure your documentation includes all the relevant information required.

When planning an event at this time you need to consider how activities associated with the event or incidental parts of it, will affect the risk of transmission of infection such as:

  • multiple day events,
  • proximity of crowds,
  • where a large proportion of the attendees and/or event staff will not be local residents,
  • where a large proportion of attendees and/or event staff are in a vulnerable risk group,
  • the behaviours the event promotes,

Assessment of the risks should include the event itself and the wider impact.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, please note that all events are subject to cancellation without liability to New Forest District Council. In the case of events that have been approved through the SAG process, they may be subject to enforcement action, which would prevent them from being held. If the event is already in progress then it could be closed.

For further guidance, download the Event Notification Procedures document below.

Icon for pdf Event Notification Procedures and the Safety Advisory Group [1.25MB]

If you still wish to organise an event for 2021, you may notify the SAG about your upcoming event using the online form below.

Event notification form

Assessment of your event

The SAG members will be distributed your event details and supporting documents.  

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, your event details will also be distributed to the Public Health Team for Hampshire. They will review applications and supporting documents with regard to preventing the spread of infection, taking into account all current national and local guidance.

Each event will be considered on a case by case basis.

Any necessary advice and guidance will usually be given on a one-to-one basis from a SAG member to the organiser.

Some smaller events that do not pose any specific risks will not require the SAG members to meet. In more complex cases or where considered appropriate, the SAG members can meet as a group or sub-group to discuss a case.

If an event is identified as likely to compromise public safety, the appropriate SAG agency may need to consider action to prevent the event from taking place unless safety improvements are made. In this case, organisers will be contacted directly by the agency.

Additional consideration will also be taken on how the event is likely to affect the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Although there is a successful vaccine roll-out, any gathering can be a source for cross infection, which could lead to a spike in cases in a particular area.

Approved plans and assessments will need to be amended to comply with any later changes in Government guidelines and local restrictions in place at the time of your event.

After your event

The SAG welcomes post-event feedback in relation to notified events. This can be provided up to 28 days after an event has been held.

A feedback box is provided on the public events register. This is for general comments and experiences only, and will help with improving the safety of events in the future.

If you have a complaint that you would like followed up, contact the relevant council department as necessary. If your complaint relates to crime and disorder offences, contact Hampshire Police.

Event safety information

Visit the Health and Safety Executive website for guidance on running events safely.

Visit the GOV.UK website for information on organising a street party.

You can download several documents related to safety at events below. These should not be a substitute for existing technical guidance or documents otherwise available.

Icon for pdf The Use of Stewards and Marshals [114.99KB]

Icon for pdf Fire Safety at Public Events [15.57KB]

Icon for pdf Event Safety Guide [1.25MB]

Icon for pdf Organising Bonfire and Firework Displays [955.45KB]

Icon for pdf Celebrating with Bonfires and Fireworks - A Community Guide [324.93KB]

Public register of events

We maintain public registers of events in New Forest.

View a register of public events listed by the SAG using the link below.

About the SAG

Public events can enhance community life, but the potential for risk to public safety and environmental damage is increased if they are poorly planned. Proper planning and management by the event organiser is essential to reduce those risks.

The Safety Advisory Group co-ordinates the efforts of relevant agencies to provide advice to anyone who wishes to organise an event within the New Forest area.

The aims and objectives of the SAG are to:

  • encourage high levels of safety and welfare at events by giving advice and guidance to event organisers
  • foster good working relationships with event organisers
  • share and promote best practice
  • encourage co-operation between its members to ensure that public safety is a top priority for event organisers.

The SAG is made up of core members and invited representatives from other agencies when needed. The core members are officers from:

  • New Forest District Council (Environmental Health, Licensing and Development Control)
  • Hampshire County Council (Highways, Emergency Planning and Public Health)
  • Hampshire Constabulary
  • Hampshire Fire and Rescue Services
  • South Central Ambulance Service
  • Forestry Commission
  • The New Forest National Park.

The Chair of the SAG may invite additional people, for example:

  • the event organiser
  • the licence holder
  • public transport providers
  • town centre managers
  • Primary Care Trust.

Contact details

For further information or queries about events or the SAG, contact us using the details below.


Christa Ferguson
Chair of Safety Advisory Group
New Forest District Council
Appletree Court
Beaulieu Road
SO43 7PA

Check dates, permissions and licences when organising a public event.

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