Guidance on Reopening

This advice has been updated on 18 September 2020. In addition we suggest MVA members check announcements on the Music Venues Alliance Facebook Group which can be accessed here:

HM Government confirmed that all Grassroots Music Venues must be closed from Saturday 21 March.

  • In Northern Ireland bars serving food were permitted to reopen from 3 July. Venues, theatres and non-food bars are unable to reopen and no date for recommencing events is currently set
  • In England they were permitted to reopen from 4 July. Indoor events are permitted, with social distancing, from 15 August
  • In Wales they were permitted to reopen from 13 July (outdoor only) / 3 August (indoor). There is no set date at present for events to restart
  • In Scotland they were permitted to reopen from 15 July. The indicative restart date for indoor events is 5 October



Risk Assessment

Creating a robust risk assessment is vital for any reopening activity. MVT recommends using the following template:




MVT has been working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to ensure that the guidance regarding reopening is fair and doesn’t penalise GMVs. This has involved working with other sectors and DCMS on draft guidance regarding Pubs Bars & Restaurants, Live Music and Performing Arts as well as checking available guidance on Shops and Places of Worship

The latest legislation regarding the reopening of venues can be found here –

Opening as a Live Music Venue

If you wish to do this, you should take the following steps:

Opening as a Pub, Bar or Restaurant

If you wish to do this, you should take the following steps:

MVT does not claim to be an expert in running a pub, bar or restaurant. It is, however, important to us as a charity that you do not place your premises licence to act as a Grassroots Music Venue at long term risk because of short term decisions to operate as a pub, bar or restaurant.

Streaming, Rehearsal & Recording Guidance

On 9 July the Performing Arts Guidance was published and it is the first piece of government guidance to include streaming, recording and rehearsal space in Section 4.1 and 4.14 (see link below)

To support you to consider the practicalities of such events, and consider whether your venue might be able to host such events, we have also created the following draft guidance which is based on the best information we have

This is a ongoing discussion document, we value your feedback and we would advise you follow this guidance for both broadcast and rehearsal plans

Read and follow MVT‘s own REVS Streaming Guidance & Discussion

It will also help you to read:

Then do the following:

  • carry out and document a risk assessment
  • communicate this risk assessment to all stakeholders
  • communicate that risk assessment to your licensing authority for confirmation that they agree you have met the guidelines. We strongly suggest that you request written approval from your licensing authority for permission to undertake this activity- aim for this as a minimum legal position
  • contact your Landlord
  • contact your Insurers
  • ensure any Licenses required are gained with relevant copyright holders
  • ensure rights to broadcast are established with performers
  • ensure no audience
  • consider measures to ensure that no audience is attracted to the recording such as ensuring volume is not enough to travel outside of venue
  • consider whether this will encourage contravening of other lockdown regulations such as people from multiple households meeting inside and whether this will class as work/furloughing of staff
  • constantly deliver all the steps within your risk assessment while open




MVT has represented the needs of GMVs with Scottish Government regarding reopening. At this point in time the most relevant guidance documents for venues are:

Performing Arts

Tourism & Hospitality

Events Sector

Creative Studios




MVT is working with Welsh Government to ensure that the needs of GMVs are considered. On 15 September 2020 Welsh Government published their Performing Arts Guidance

Venues must also consider the following guidance documents:Guidance for current restrictions:

Tourism & Hospitality which refers to a UK Hospitality document and also taking into account this and general guidance

Additional guidance on 31 July:

  • When utilising outdoor spaces, the use of physical coverings, awnings, gazebos or marquees should be delivered in such a way so as to ensure that they are aligned with current medical advice. The effects of sunlight, wind direction and intensity, social distance and effective handwashing should all be considered. Specifically, they should be open on 3 or 4 sides so as to be considered and treated as an external environment. It is imperative that if marquees are to be adopted for use they need to be effectively used and policed so as not to allow for an excessive confined congregation which would not accommodate effective social distancing
  • Pre-booking is recommended. Walk-ups allowed subject to provision of names and contact details and social/physical distancing.
  • Ensure customers provide lead names and contact details to facilitate Test Trace Protect
  • Set a maximum capacity for the premises and put in place measures for communicating and managing the maximum capacity set – for example, by setting dwell times.
  • Implement one way systems, where the building allows. Outside queues should be managed to ensure they do not cause a risk to individuals, other businesses or additional security risks, for example by introducing queuing systems.
  • Table service only, where reasonable and practicable. Standing consumption is only allowed at tall tables.
  • Deploy fixed teams of staff on each shift to reduce interactivity between team members.
  • Set a maximum staff number, or space per staff member, in kitchens to allow for social distancing whilst taking into account the cramped nature of many kitchens. Encourage new ways of working, adapting shift patterns and menus to significantly reduce the number of people working in kitchens at any one time
  • Designate a named member or members of staff (depending on number of covers) during all opening hours to monitor Covid-19 hygiene and enforcement of social distancing/safety protocols – acting as ‘Covid Secure Monitors’. This is an important role in ensuring a Covid secure environment and you should ensure that priority is given to this role and that a responsible member of staff is in place for each shift.
  • Employers should appoint and engage with a staff representative, and trade union representative wherever possible, for all employee related Covid 19 issues.
  • Venues should not permit live performances, including drama, comedy and music, to take place in front of a live audience until further easing of restrictions. This is important to mitigate the risks of droplets and aerosol transmission – from either the performer(s) or their audience. TV broadcasts and recorded music should be kept at background level; dancing should not be allowed. Activities such as quizzes should also be kept at background level.
  • The use of Apps or other communications devices is recommended, to reduce contact with customers, including options for menus, ordering, billing and contactless payment.
  • Increase ventilation and enhance airflow by opening windows and propping open internal doors (but not fire doors) where possible.
  • Access to indoor toilets will be allowed subject to adherence to cleaning and other protocols aimed at protecting staff and customers. See guidance on the safe management of toilets used by the public
  • All businesses to implement a deep clean before re-opening and take account of potential legionella issues.
  • Thorough and regular cleaning of high contact touch points, toilets, tables etc. throughout the course of the service in line with your risk assessed cleaning regime.
  • Each business must have a full risk assessment, prepared in line with the WG and UKH Industry guidance which staff have been consulted on.
  • Businesses should make their Covid-19 risk assessment publicly available for staff, customers and the community.
  • Ensure customers are fully aware of their responsibilities for observing social distancing and all Covid-19 safety measures – using clear signage and other visual communications (e.g. posters or airline style flashcards).



Northern Ireland

Please read the Performing Arts Guidance from Arts Council NI.

MVT is working closely with MLAs with the goal of presenting our findings and support needs formally to the Department of Communities.

Current relevant guidance: