Latest England Covid Pass Rules Updated – What You Need To Know

The latest in a barrage of loose rules have been vaguely clarified by the government today, here’s the skinny.

All of the following applies from Wednesday 15th December providing it is approved by Parliament (which according to all reports it will be).

Dancing, unless it’s at home, and the hours between 1 am and 5am are the latest things to cause coronavirus.

To enter certain types of venues and events in England visitors will have to prove that they:

  • are vaccinated with 2 doses of an approved vaccine (or one of the single-dose Janssen vaccine) – we will keep this under review as boosters are rolled out
  • have taken a PCR or rapid lateral flow test within the last 48 hours, or
  • are exempt from vaccination or vaccination and testing on the basis of a medical exemption or clinical trial participation

Venues where the Covid Pass is required is the main area that has been updated and it is, we’re afraid, as bad as feared:

Nightclubs, dance halls and discotheques

You must always prove your vaccine-or-test COVID-19 status to visit all nightclubs, dance halls and discotheques.

You do not need to prove your vaccination status if:

  • the venue is not acting as a nightclub (for example by closing their dancefloor)
  • they are holding an exempt event (see the Exempt activities section below) 

Other venues acting as nightclubs, dancehalls and discotheques

You must also prove your COVID-19 status to visit all other venues that:

  • are open at any point between 1am and 5am
  • serve alcohol after 1am
  • have a dancefloor (or space for dancing)
  • provide music, whether live or recorded, for dancing

Unless they are holding an exempt event (see the Exempt activities section below).

And here, I’m afraid folks, is the kicker that makes the life of every venue open after 1am a real shitshow:

Venues meeting these criteria must make sure that everyone in the venue from 1am is vaccinated, has completed a recent negative test, or is exempt (unless the venue is holding an event which is exempt).

Venues can choose how they do this. For example, if you’re attending a venue, such as a late night bar with a dancefloor, you may have to prove your COVID-19 status to gain access, even if you enter and leave before 1am.

So if you are open after 1am and have a dance floor and are playing music you will either need to check everyone’s status before they enter the venue at any point in case they stay after 1am, or check everyone in the venue in the lead up to 1am and kick out anyone who doesn’t tick the boxes.

Before 1am the rules are a lot more open to interpretation. When is a dancefloor not a dancefloor? More importantly when is a ‘space for dancing’ a space for dancing? Simply put if people are dancing in your venue before 1am and you haven’t checked their status you are in dangerous territory.

The one thing that we have heard mentioned is that it is expected that some licensing police will be using this as an excuse to crack down on ‘trouble venues’. So if you have had a complaint made about your venue/had a visit from licensing police it may be worth taking extra caution.

Alongside the work from home order this is obviously another low blow to the hospitality industry. This time instead of putting forward any specific rules against hospitality that would have resulted in them needing to provide financial support the government (and the supporting Labour party) are making the general population doubt their plans for getting together at the most important time of the year for our industry.

Omicron is obviously a concern, and everyone needs to be on alert to make sure we don’t get overwhelmed, but once again hospitality is being, all be it less obviously, singled out. In case anyone reading this is unsure if this is true then I’ll just point you to the last of the events exempt from the Covid Pass rules – events in private houses (including private gardens) where people do not have to pay or hold a ticket to enter. You can dance your ass of in your home with up to 499 other people at 3am, drinking booze from a supermarket with no-one cleaning fucking anything at any point and you’ll be fine folks.

Oh and in case you’re wondering, yep No 10 Downing Street is a private house.

Below is some more info from the update about overseas visitors, exempt events etc as well as a link to the full document so you can have a proper read and decide how best to interpret and implement for your venue.

Visiting England as a resident of Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man

If you live in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man then you can show proof of your COVID-19 status as this will be recognised in England if you visit.

International visitors

If you were vaccinated in another country, you can show alternative proof of vaccination if this is accepted at the UK border. International visitors can also show a valid text or email confirmation of a negative rapid lateral flow or PCR test from NHS Test and Trace.

Events where the NHS COVID Pass is required for visitors

You must also prove your COVID-19 status to visit:

  • indoor events with 500 or more attendees, where those attendees are likely to stand or move around for all or part of the event (such as music venues with standing audiences, or large receptions)
  • outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees, where those attendees are likely to stand or move around for all or part of the event (such as outdoor festivals)
  • any events with 10,000 or more attendees, whether indoor or outdoor (such as large sports and music events)

Events are defined as including:

  • an entertainment, a performance or similar occasion
  • a competition, race, match or other sporting event
  • a celebration, ball, reception or other organised social event
  • a conference, presentation, business reception, trade show or exhibition, award show or a charitable auction

Exempt activities

Some venues will not check proof of your COVID-19 status unless they are holding a specific event (such as a performance or reception) that meets the attendance thresholds (that is, a certain number of people attending).

You will not need to show your COVID-19 status to participate in sporting activity, regardless of number of participants or whether the activity is indoors or outdoors.

There are also some events where you will not need to prove your COVID-19 status in order to attend. These include:

  • communal worship
  • wedding and civil partnership ceremonies and equivalents (including alternative wedding ceremonies)
  • receptions celebrating a wedding or other significant life event (like a christening, bar and bat mitzvah or mehndi ceremony) that are organised by an individual (and not a business, a charitable, benevolent, or philanthropic institution or a public body)
  • funerals and commemorative events (except where commemorative events are held in a nightclub)
  • outdoor events in public spaces where these are unticketed and not charged for (such as markets, street parties, protests and carnivals)
  • events in private houses (including private gardens) where people do not have to pay or hold a ticket to enter

If you’re unsure whether a venue or event you plan to attend will require you to demonstrate your COVID-19 status, you should contact the venue or event or check their website.

The full government guidance document can be found here