Coronavirus (COVID-19): What to do as an event organiser?

Coronavirus (COVID-19): What to do as an event organiser?

Arti­cle updat­ed on March 23 at 5:00pm

Note to atten­dees
The British gov­ern­ment has recent­ly announced that pubs, restau­rants, and leisure venues must stay closed or they may be fined. The risk to the UK has been raised to ‘high’ and social dis­tanc­ing is rec­om­mend­ed for all cit­i­zens in order to slow the spread of the virus.
We would also like to remind you that Weezevent only pro­vides the tick­et­ing soft­ware used by our event organ­is­ers. There­fore, for any ques­tions con­cern­ing refunds for events that have been can­celled or post­poned, please con­tact the organ­is­er, who will respond to your request.
You will find their con­tact details on your e‑ticket, the con­fir­ma­tion email and the web­site on which you reg­is­tered. Please check event’s web­site and social media chan­nels for any updates.

In the midst of the cri­sis caused by the coro­n­avirus (COVID-19) pan­dem­ic, event organ­is­ers are among those sig­nif­i­cant­ly affect­ed and must adapt to mul­ti­ple exter­nal restric­tions. Fore­most among these is the British government’s announce that pubs, restau­rants, and leisure venues must stay closed or they may be fined. Fur­ther­more, the risk to the UK has been raised to ‘high’ and social dis­tanc­ing is rec­om­mend­ed for all cit­i­zens in order to slow the spread of the virus.

Here is the infor­ma­tion you need to know in order to make informed deci­sions about whether to can­cel, post­pone or pro­ceed with your event. Please note that this arti­cle is for infor­ma­tion pur­pos­es only and does not apply to all events. Each case is unique and you should take legal advice and read rel­e­vant con­tracts to your sit­u­a­tion.


Cancel, postpone or proceed — what to do?

— Monitor announcements from the authorities

It is essen­tial to stay informed in times of cri­sis, whether you must can­cel your event or not; by choice or by oblig­a­tion, reg­u­lar­ly con­sult the fol­low­ing link to keep up to date with the government’s lat­est deci­sions: Up to date infor­ma­tion can be found here: gov.uk/coronavirus.

Impor­tant: Your Weezevent advi­sors are also at your dis­pos­al if you have any ques­tions. Con­tact them when­ev­er you have any doubts con­cern­ing your event’s organ­i­sa­tion: weezevent.com/en-gb/contact.

— Provide reassurance when proceeding with the event

If you are pro­ceed­ing with your event, remem­ber to reas­sure your atten­dees by inform­ing them of the spe­cif­ic mea­sures put in place, to ensure that the event is held in the best pos­si­ble health and safe­ty con­di­tions.

— Analyse all the options

Before mak­ing a final deci­sion or com­mu­ni­cat­ing any can­cel­la­tion, ensure that you are equipped to man­age the admin­is­tra­tive work. A can­cel­la­tion announce­ment will inevitably bring with it a flood of ques­tions that you will need to be pre­pared for. Be sure to con­tact the rel­e­vant author­i­ties before can­celling your event includ­ing your insur­ance provider and seek any rel­e­vant legal advice. Don’t make any uni­lat­er­al deci­sions, as this will force you to bear sole respon­si­bil­i­ty for the con­se­quences.

Impor­tant: Your Weezevent advi­sors are avail­able to answer any ques­tions you may have about whether to post­pone, can­cel or pro­ceed with your event. Con­tact them before mak­ing a defin­i­tive deci­sion: weezevent.com/en-gb/contact.

— Postpone to a later date

In some cas­es, an alter­na­tive solu­tion to can­celling an event can be found: post­pone­ment. How­ev­er, this is not as sim­ple as it sounds, and all par­ties involved in organ­is­ing your event will have to agree to it.

As with can­celling, don’t take this deci­sion light­ly, and don’t rush to announce it. Not every­one will be hap­py with this back­up plan. So, just as with an out­right can­cel­la­tion, you will be legal­ly oblig­ed to refund any atten­dees who request one in the event of a post­pone­ment.

Impor­tant: Many atten­dees will be like­ly to accept the post­pone­ment giv­en the excep­tion­al cir­cum­stances. From an oper­a­tional point of view, indi­cate that the tick­ets for the orig­i­nal dates will be valid for the post­poned edi­tion.

Tips:

  • In the access lists for your new event with­in Weezevent, all you will need to do is select the prices of the can­celled edi­tion.
  • Offer an extra ser­vice or reward (e.g. free park­ing, free T‑shirt, free drink on site, bet­ter seating/location etc) for all atten­dees who are hap­py to attend the revised event and who you will there­fore not need to refund.

— Communicate to save time

You can inform atten­dees that you are in con­tact with the author­i­ties and that you will get back to them as soon as you have any news. It’s not rec­om­mend­ed that you announce a can­cel­la­tion if you’re not ready. This is also the case for reim­burse­ment meth­ods, which you can announce at a lat­er date.

— Know your contractual obligations

List all the third par­ties — artists, sup­pli­ers, etc. — you are work­ing with in the organ­i­sa­tion of your event and find all con­tracts signed with them. You will then be famil­iar with all your oblig­a­tions and the con­se­quences of fail­ing to meet them if your event’s can­cel­la­tion pre­vents you from hon­our­ing your con­tracts.


Frequently asked questions

— Do I have to cancel my event if it takes place in the next few weeks?

Get in touch with local author­i­ties to find out if your event is affect­ed by the var­i­ous restric­tions imposed.

Def­i­nite­ly do not make the deci­sion to can­cel your event on your own.

— What can I do to avoid cancelling my event?

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the cur­rent con­text of the pan­dem­ic con­sti­tutes a case of force majeure and the mea­sures tak­en by author­i­ties there­fore take prece­dence over your deci­sions.

How­ev­er, you should have the option of post­pon­ing your event to a lat­er date. This can pro­vide a good alter­na­tive, allow­ing you to avoid major finan­cial loss­es, although post­pon­ing your event does not exempt you from the require­ment to refund your atten­dees if they request this.

— Do I have to refund all attendees if I am forced to cancel my event?

Yes, you are oblig­ed to refund tick­et buy­ers if your event is can­celled, even if the rea­son is a case of force majeure and was not your deci­sion.

More­over, remem­ber that from a legal point of view, a tick­et rep­re­sents a con­tract between the producer/presenter of the show and the pur­chas­er. Any changes linked to the show there­fore mean that the producer/presenter has not ful­filled their con­tract, and must refund the pur­chas­er  if the lat­ter requests this. If an event is post­poned or brought for­wards — whether in terms of time or date — or moved to anoth­er loca­tion, this rea­son­ing also applies.

You are oblig­ed to refund the face val­ue of the tick­et. Unless oth­er­wise stat­ed in your terms and con­di­tions you are not required to refund book­ing fees. If you have charged postage fees but not yet dis­trib­uted tick­ets you should refund these.

Tip: Weezevent allows you to make par­tial refunds.

— Is there a time limit for making refunds?

There is no legal time lim­it for refund­ing your atten­dees, but we rec­om­mend that you do your best. Refunds should be made in a rea­son­able time peri­od, we rec­om­mend you process the refund with­in 28 days.

Tip: With Weezevent, set up a refund request form in order to refund every­one or only those who request it. Set a dead­line if this cre­ates account­ing or cash flow con­straints for you.

— My attendees have requested a refund even though my event has not been cancelled. What should I do?

You have no legal oblig­a­tion to refund them. If you are pro­ceed­ing with your event this means it meets the require­ments imposed by the author­i­ties. You can there­fore refund them if you wish, but this is in no way legal­ly required.

— Can I ask for donations to save my event?

Does your event’s can­cel­la­tion endan­ger its finan­cial sta­bil­i­ty? Sug­gest to atten­dees and every­one else that they make online dona­tions to allow your event to con­tin­ue and return once the cri­sis peri­od is over. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly fea­si­ble if you have a strong com­mu­ni­ty that is ready to sup­port you.

Tip: With Weezevent, set up a fundrais­er in just a few clicks.

— What is Weezevent’s policy concerning refunds?

Under nor­mal cir­cum­stances, refund­ing a Weezevent tick­et entails a fee of £2 (excl. VAT).

How­ev­er, out of sol­i­dar­i­ty and giv­en the excep­tion­al nature of the sit­u­a­tion, Weezevent has decid­ed to make all can­cel­la­tion fees free of charge for its organ­is­ers.

— Does the cancellation insurance option for which some attendees will have registered cover cancellations relating to coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Unfor­tu­nate­ly not, as mass risks (epi­demics, pan­demics, etc.) are not cov­ered by the major­i­ty of can­cel­la­tion insur­ance poli­cies. Advise any­one who has tak­en out can­cel­la­tion insur­ance to speak with the insur­ance com­pa­ny direct­ly.


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