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COVID-19 FAQ: on-campus events guidance

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The following information outlines the University’s approach to on-campus events during the summer term and beyond (until Welcome Week starts from 20 September 2021)Following the announcement of the government roadmap, there are four stages of when restrictions may lift, and these will, in turn, affect how on-campus events are managed within each stage.

Yes. The health and wellbeing of our University community (colleagues and students) is our top priority and therefore a ‘virtual-first’ approach is being taken across all activities for students and staff in order to reduce unnecessary risk of infection spread. However, for a small number of event types it is deemed reasonably necessary for them to take place on campus in a face-to-face setting.  

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What sort of on-campus events will be allowed/prioritised? 

The following event categories will be prioritised to take place on-campus during the summer term (until 19 July, or when the government roadmap ends):  

  1. Student engagement – including events run by RUSU for students e.g. ‘Mojos on The Meadow’. 
  2. Student recruitment – including activities primarily for prospective students and applicants looking to commence their University studies in September 2021 and 2022 e.g. self-guided campus visits/tours. 
  3. Commercial – including only event types permitted at each roadmap stage. 

After 19 July (Step 4 on the government roadmap) 

Athis stage we don’t know if restrictions will be in place or what those might be, or what mitigation measures will be required for events hosted in step four of the government roadmap (from 19 July, at the earliest).  We are hopeful though that many of the restrictions around events will ease significantly, enabling a wider range of activities to be considered over the summer months (and beyond). Once government releases further information, guidance and legislation, about what will be allowed and what mitigations will be required this will be reviewed by MRT and an update will be provided to colleagues. For the time being we are aware that colleagues are keen to plan for engagement activities scheduled in step four and wanted to provide some preliminary information. 

As a minimum we hope that after 19 July(or when the government roadmap ends) the following event types can also be prioritised (in addition to 1-3 above) to take place on-campus (with mitigations in place as required): 

4. Colleague team gatherings and events – including team planning workshops, team building activities, team picnics or celebrations (e.g. leaving parties).  
5. Museum events  museums can re-open for visitors (no earlier than 17 May)however, there is currently no information available about museum events and/or new exhibits from this date. Thereforeevents specific activity should take place no earlier than 19 July in line with the University’s approach. Some activities will be assessed by Events (with advice from Legal Services as necessary) and on a case-by-case basis.
6. Organised community groups – walking groups, local school groups or uniformed youth organisations (for example Scouts, Guides or Cadets) can undertake outdoor activities on campus. 

MRT will review events guidance and legislation regarding step 4 of the government roadmap when it is released and will provide a further update to colleagues at that point. At least until then, it is recommended that planning for on-campus/face-to-face events that fall outside of the categories above should therefore be paused. If you would like to discuss event ideas in advance of this, including how to make the most of virtual event alternatives do not hesitate to contact the Events Team. 

NB - Collective worship is permissible in campus buildings currently designated for that purpose e.g. the University's Chaplaincy and Muslim Centre. Please note organisers are required to manage gatherings of this nature accordingly, following advice on the appropriate exemptions/rules through Events, and therefore organisers must confirm and ensure compliance with government guidance on collective worship, including ensuring that (at least until 17 May, when we anticipate the next step of the roadmap is reached) worshippers do not gather other than in household groups indoors and in groups of two households or six people outdoors, and otherwise adhere to all of the current University safety protocols/event control measures. 

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What risks should be considered? 

During the summer term the University’s focus is on delivering its core business (teaching and research) in a safe and COVID-secure environment. Therefore on-campus events, where they are legally permitted, should be assessed against their risk to this versus their benefit to the University/wider community. Just because an event may be permitted legally, it may not be approved by the University because of this prioritisation of certain types of events. 

There will be significant pressure on key ‘front-line’ University services during the summer term (e.g. cleaning, catering, portering, security). Therefore on-campus events should also be assessed against the additional pressure that they may place on critical teams and to ensure that extra activities do not jeopardise core COVID-secure measures. 

The ability to carry out on-campus events legally is, in many cases, subject to the University taking additional steps to risk assess and comply with the guidance in place at that time. The Events Office can provide more information about these steps, and event organisers will be responsible for ensuring that these additional requirements are complied with. 

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Does a meeting count as an ‘on-campus event’? 

No, in this context ‘events’ refer to activities that intend to bring together a gathering of people that is not part of the delivery of core teaching or research but that is related to the University’s business. 

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What health and safety control measures are required for on-campus events 

To ensure we are doing all we can to minimise the risk of infection, on-campus events must meet with COVID-secure mitigations. It is likely that the University will require some or all of these measures to be in place until at least the end of the summer vacation (and probably beyond). We must also be mindful that the government’s Event Research Programme could recommend an extension of COVID-19 precautions for events, at which point additional control measures will need to be followed.  

Therefore, the following control measures should be applied to all on-campus events until at least 19 July, or when the government roadmap ends 

  • Scheduling of events should be carefully considered to prevent interference with the core business of the University e.g. Teaching and Research  

  • Attendees at events need to be informed of and adhere to the University guidelines and safety measures.  

  • A policy on self-testing using lateral flow devices in order to access certain events is currently being considered, led by emerging public health advice. Event planning should therefore take into account the possibility that proof of a recent negative test may be required, even after 21 June. 

  • All events must comply with use of the NHS Track and Trace app (each campus building displays an identifying barcode for scanning on arrival). Where a strict 2m distancing is not possible or where event organisers cannot guarantee that 2m distancing will be maintained throughout, or where an event is indoors, pre-registration and/or attendance monitoring must be in place. Individual names and contact information should be recorded for all attendees (enabling contact tracing in the event of a COVID-19 case, following an event). 

  • Where possible events should be outdoors (especially if including visitors from outside the University e.g. for student recruitment). Where this is not possible and indoor events are legally permitted, events should take place in bookable spaces on campus where COVID-secure signage is installed/furniture is appropriately placed to support social distancing (there should be minimal movement of furniture where possible to avoid additional pressure on key services). COVID-secure room capacities should not be exceeded and should allow for adequate social distancing. This information can be found on request to the Central Room Booking and Timetabling Office. If an event is held indoors, air flow and ventilation should be maximised where possible. Note that the former ‘outdoor space booking’ facility is being re-instated to ensure outdoor spaces do not become overcrowded. 

  • Event attendee numbers and control measures must strictly follow the law, government guidance and roadmap at the time. Events before 19 July should not exceed 30 people unless a clear legal exemption applies. Where it is proposed that a group larger than 30 is to be gathered, a case will need to be made as part of the Event Notification process (with escalation to MRT in exceptional cases).  

  • All events in priority categories 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 (Student Engagement, Student Recruitment, Colleague eventsMuseum events and Organised community groups) must be approved through the Event Notification process. This has been modified to include COVID-secure requirements. This will enable key teams e.g. Health & Safety, Estates as well as the central Events Team to have oversight of all planned activities, to check that adequate risk mitigation is in place and to monitor event volumes on any particular day/at any particular time/in any particular venue. Events in priority category 3 (Commercial), will be monitored via Venue Reading and Venue Henley, using existing control measures. Also, as is the usual remit, the Events team will take responsibility for strategic University event delivery within this period as required in exceptional circumstances. 

NB - a revised Event Notification Process and guidance will be developed in line with the release of updated roadmap legislation, government guidance and in response to the outcomes of the government’s Event Research Programme. 

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What is the Events Notification Process and how do I submit a notification? 

The Event Notification Process is the University’s events approval system. It exists to ensure on-campus events are safe, providing high-quality guest experiences which enable holistic campus co-ordinationEvents are activities which intend to gather people for a purpose outside of core curriculum teaching and learningAs part of this process, details of the event will be circulated to the Event Notification Group for comment and approval. In return, event organisers receive collective response to verify the activity. The group is represented by senior University stakeholders from a variety of areas, such as Catering, Estates, Health & Safety and Security. 

To process Event Notifications, organisers must complete and submit the following forms: 

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If my event qualifies as a priority on campus, can I have catering 

Yes. Campus events are required to use University Hospitality and Catering Services for food supply. The Venue Reading team can take bookings and provide events with catered services. Organisers can find delivered catering and menu choices on the hospitality webpages www.hospitalityuor.co.uk/deliver-to-you/ 

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I am unsure what to do next, who should I talk to about my event? 
 
If you are unsure whether your activity falls into a permissible event type or you'd like to discuss your event further, please contact the Events Team who will be happy to provide advice (events@reading.ac.uk).

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Reference table: priority event conditions   
NB - all event types listed below are subject to an approved event notification and risk assessment. All events must follow the health and safety control measures mentioned above (numbers 1 – 9) and are the responsibility of the event organiser. 

Events on campus (Step three: 17 May – Step four: 19 July) 

Priority event type 

Indoor 

Outdoor 

1. Student engagement 

 

Organised co-curricular and extra-curricular activities for students 

 

Including: 

  • School-led gatherings 

  • University-led activities such as Chaplaincy gatherings 

  • RUSU-managed activities 

  • RUSU approved student society gatherings (for undertaking society activity only) 

Rule of six applies 

 

Organised activities can bring together multiple groups of six in one place as long as the venue* enables sufficient distancing so that: 

  • Distancing between individuals within groups is sufficient. 

  • Distancing between multiple groups of six is sufficient. 

  • Multiple groups of six do not mix (including arrival and departure). 

 

Up to thirty 

 

Organised activities can bring together groups of thirty in one place as long as the venue* enables sufficient distancing so that: 

  • Distancing between individuals within groups is sufficient. 

  • Distancing between multiple groups of thirty is sufficient. 

  • Multiple groups of thirty do not mix (including arrival and departure). 

Health & Safety 

 

COVID-19-secure guidelines and policies must be in place and adhered to (including the submission of an online event notification form) 

 

*For RUSU-managed activities, compliance with government capacity caps must be applied: ‘Organisers should also mitigate risk to public health by controlling attendance, limiting numbers to take account of the space and ventilation of a venue and implementing effective infection prevention and control measures. 

All events recommencing at Step 3 will be subject to the following capacity caps: 

  1. 1,000 people or 50% of a venue’s capacity, whichever is lower at indoor events 

  1. 4,000 people or 50% of a site or venue’s capacity, whichever is lower at outdoor events 

 

 

Student-led social activities 

 

 

Rule of six applies* 

 

Indoors, students are not permitted to meet or socialise in groups of more than six or two households. 

*Multiple groups of six are not permitted. 

 

Up to thirty 

 

Outdoors, students are not permitted to meet or socialise in groups of more than thirty or two households. 

2. Student recruitment 

 

Global Recruitment and Admissions led only 

Rule of six applies 

 

Organised activities can bring together multiple groups of six in one place provided the venue* enables sufficient distancing so that: 

  • Distancing between individuals within groups is sufficient. 

  • Distancing between multiple groups of six is sufficient. 

  • Multiple groups of six do not mix (including arrival and departure). 

Up to thirty 

 

Organised activities can bring together groups of thirty in one place provided the venue* enables sufficient distancing so that: 

  • Distancing between individuals within groups is sufficient. 

  • Distancing between multiple groups of thirty is sufficient. 

  • Multiple groups of thirty do not mix (including arrival and departure). 

Health & Safety 

COVID-19-secure guidelines and policies must be in place and adhered to (including the submission of an online event notification form) 

 

3. Commercial 

 

Venue Reading and Venue Henley-led only 

Rule of six applies 

 

Organised activities can bring together multiple groups of six in one place provided the venue* enables sufficient distancing so that: 

  • Distancing between individuals within groups is sufficient. 

  • Distancing between multiple groups of six is sufficient 

  • Multiple groups of six do not mix (including arrival and departure). 

Up to thirty 

 

Organised activities can bring together groups of thirty in one place provided the venue* enables sufficient distancing so that: 

  • Distancing between individuals within groups is sufficient. 

  • Distancing between multiple groups of thirty is sufficient 

  • Multiple groups of thirty do not mix (including arrival and departure). 

Health & Safety 

COVID-19-secure guidelines and policies must be in place and adhered to. 

 

*For Venue Reading managed activities, compliance with government capacity caps must be applied 

If you have any questions about the Event Notification process or about how to gain approval for a face-to-face event please contact event.notification@reading.ac.uk. 

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