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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