Concern has been raised with me by a number of constituents across Mid Sussex regarding the suitability of allowing funfairs to visit in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, social distancing measures and the currently rising R number as the infection rates have started to rise again.
The issue of whose responsibility it is to assess and enforce social distancing, cleaning regimes and risk assessments were raised with Mid Sussex District Council initially in respect of the fair at Victoria Park in Haywards Heath in August 2020. At the time I was advised:-
Following the easing of some lockdown measures, large scale outdoor events can now be considered and the landowner can permit these at their discretion, subject to the submission of appropriate risk assessments, insurance documentation and certifications and/or qualifications which demonstrate the event organisers ability to manage their event safely and in line with the most up to date Government guidance.
The Council [as the landowner] has reviewed the documentation supplied by the event organisers and also undertaken inspections of the fun fair to both discuss and observe the control measures the organisers have adopted, which we are content with.
If your constituent has concerns, I would recommend that they contact the event organisers in the first instance, as they are responsible for managing their event and are best placed to react. If concerns remain, a complaint can be made to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Legally the organiser must manage the risk of Covid-19 transmission occurring at their event under Health and Safety legislation. Failing to do so, as far as is reasonably practicable, could be an offence under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. For fairgrounds, this is enforced by the HSE.
If there are large groups failing to social distance outside of the event or any form of disorder this would be for Sussex Police to respond.
My team have continued to monitor this situation as we have received more enquiries regarding funfairs in Lindfield and Burgess Hill. Funfairs are able to remain open at this time in line with the current Government guidance https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/closing-certain-businesses-and-venues-in-england . Sections 2 and 5 provide clarity on social contact limits. As I write this webpage was last updated on the 11th September however I anticipate that following the Prime Minister’s update today, 22nd September, that some revisions will be made to this link. **
I fully recognise that there are genuine concerns around the ability of some of our younger generations to understand the implications of their actions and fully adhere to the social distancing measures and that funfairs will typically attract a younger customer base. As highlighted today by The Prime Minister, it has been explained that the evidence shows that the number of new cases is growing fastest amongst those aged 20-29. He has also advised that there will be a tightening of the rule of six alongside making Covid-secure guidelines for retail, leisure, tourism and other sectors legal obligations. (https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-commons-statement-on-coronavirus-22-september-2020).
As such I have already raised the concerns brought to me by constituents with the Cabinet Office regarding funfairs. As a fast moving situation it is possible that any changes would be formally announced prior to me receiving a written reply so I will continue to monitor this situation and update this webpage as I learn more.
** Update: 24th September
Further to the Prime Minister's update on the 22nd September the following additional guidance has been published. In summary there has been no closure of funfairs however they are now included in the group of businesses that are not permitted to open between 10pm and 5am : https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-what-has-changed-22-september . The current requirements, 'Working safely during coronavirus (Covid-19)' , for The Visitor Economy, including priority actions for this group of businesses, can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/the-visitor-economy .