Track and trace advice for UK event organisers

As an event host or venue owner, you’ll undoubtedly be aware of NHS Test and Trace by now. The service, in which the NHS traces those who’ve come into contact with a new Covid-19 patient, now plays a crucial part in our fight against the pandemic. 


But what exactly does it all mean for you, the event organiser? The hospitality industry is one of the worst hit by the Covid-19 outbreak, and it’s totally understandable that you’ll want to get things up and running as quickly – and safely – as possible. Whether you own a pub and want to start your weekly quizzes again, or are in the music scene and are thinking of getting on the drive-thru concert bandwagon, you’ll now be responsible for gathering and holding onto data about your staff and customers to pass onto the NHS if they ask you for it. 

As it was recently announced that music venues will be able to open their doors for “socially distanced events” from 1st August, we thought it would be helpful to outline some of the important information event hosts need to know about NHS Test and Trace. 

What is the NHS Test and Trace service in the UK?

The NHS Test and Trace service is a national service that aims to identify, contain and contain the Coronavirus outbreak. Anyone who now tests positive for the Covid-19 is required to contact the NHS, who will then ask them about anyone they’ve been in contact with recently, including those they’ve been within two metres of for 15 minutes or more.

Which venues and events are impacted by NHS Test and Trace?

Basically any event organiser or venue owner who’s responsible for providing an on-site service. This includes:

  • Bars, pubs and restaurants

  • Music venues, including outdoor venues

  • Community halls and town halls 

  • Museums, theme parks, zoos and cinemas

This does not include any kind of take-away service (like a street food van), but as an events organiser – unless your event is online/virtual – it will affect you.

What are the NHS Test and Trace rules for events hosts?

If you're responsible for hosting an on-site event, you need to collect certain data about anyone who’s attending the event as well as about your staff. This is something you would probably do anyway, especially if you sell tickets to your event in advance. But the difference here is that you’re responsible for holding onto this data for 21 days, and for handing the data over to the NHS if they ask for it as part of their Test and Trace service. The records you need to keep are:

  • Names and contact numbers of all staff

  • Dates and times of when staff members were working

  • The name of each attendee or the name of the ‘lead’ member of a group of people who are together

  • The phone number of the attendee or lead group member

  • Date and arrival time of each attendee/group

The NHS has also stated that it would be helpful to record your attendees departure times if possible. 

The case for selling advance tickets

As we’ve mentioned before on the Ticket Tailor blog, now really is ticketing’s time to shine. Selling advanced tickets to attendees is undoubtedly the best way to keep things as organised as possible when it comes to those all-important attendance records. 

With this in mind, we’re now seeing places like pubs sell tickets to customers, who are being allocated a time slot to hit their local watering hole, rather than the pub facing a free-for-all. While it’s not going to be possible for every event host – and the NHS will accept records made upon arrival – if you can use ticketing to help keep things in check, it’ll go a long way towards tackling this crisis.

What you should be telling your event attendees

Because of GDPR, you’re allowed to ask your staff and customers for their contact information and to share this with the NHS for their Test and Track service without seeking consent. But for the sake of trust and transparency, it’s really important that you’re open with your customers and staff, and advisable that you let them know the score. You don’t have to do this on a person-to-person basis, but it would be worthwhile popping up a sign at your event, or perhaps sending out an email to your contact list letting people know you’ll be passing their details onto the NHS if requested to do so. 

You’re not responsible for verifying identity

The good news for event hosts is that you’re not going to be held in any way responsible for verifying people’s identity. It’s your job to take the names and contact details of your attendees, but you don’t need to worry about checking ID (except for your usual purposes). It’s highly likely that the overwhelming majority of people are going to be keen to help the Track and Trace service in any way they can (it benefits us all, after all), so hopefully the NHS won’t have too much concern over people providing false details. 

Getting a Test and Trace call

If the NHS needs to trace someone who’s been at your event, they’ll call you from 0300 013 5000 or text you from ‘NHStracing’. 

The overall impact for event hosts?

The NHS Test and Trace service is one of our surest ways of working our way out of this pandemic and back towards ‘normality’. So in that sense, the more seriously event hosts take it, the better it will be for them in the long run. 

As most organisers would have traditionally gathered their customers details anyway, it shouldn’t have too much impact in that respect. Now, though, it’s about being as organised and helpful as possible – going out of your way to store departure times, for example, may feel a little tedious, but it really could make all the difference when it comes to speeding up our recovery from this pandemic. And that’s what really matters.