200 allowed at mass gatherings

James Kon

Operational Readiness Level 3 for mass gatherings commenced yesterday, raising the permitted number of people at each event to 200.

This was outlined in a press statement by the Ministry of Health (MoH), which added that staggered arrivals – where the attendees arrive and leave at different times or take turns to attend an event – are still not permitted.

Permitted gatherings include private functions, religious events, wedding events, family events and charity events held at private residences, whether indoor or using outdoor tents, as well as at purpose-built premises such as banquet halls, restaurants and other
event venues.

Allowed workplace events include meetings, courses, training, conferences, job interviews – including written tests – and social events.

Organisers of recreational events are required to comply with the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS).

All of the permitted events must comply with the maximum limit of attendees allowed, which is not more than 200 people. The events should be kept short and limited, as much as possible, to no more than two hours at a time.

For events held at private residences, the hosts are required to list all the attendees, to assist with contact tracing if needed, by providing a register book or guest book.

For events held at purpose-built premises, the management is required to obtain a specific BruHealth QR code for their premises, which is to be printed out and placed at the entrance for scanning by attendees on entering and leaving.

Event organisers must encourage attendees to observe social distancing, for example, by placing the seats at least one metre apart during the event.

They must also ensure a healthy environment by providing clean and adequate restroom facilities, handwashing facilities with soap and water, disposable towels and covered rubbish bins. If possible, hand sanitisers should also be provided.

Event organisers also need to ensure the premises has good ventilation, with fans and open windows, if necessary. The premises must be cleaned and sanitised before and after the event, especially frequently touched surfaces such as tables, chairs, countertops, handrails and door handles.

Surfaces can also be cleaned by wiping with soapy water and rinsing with clean water. When dry, disinfect the surfaces by wiping with a piece of cloth that has been soaked in bleach diluted one part bleach to 49 parts water, before leaving to dry or rinsing with clean water.

Disinfection may also be done by wiping surfaces with 70 per cent alcohol-impregnated wipes and leaving to dry.

All attendees, including staff or committee members, should practise self-hygiene at all times, such as frequent handwashing or using hand sanitiser. They must also reduce physical contact, including shaking hands or embracing; and observe social responsibility, including proper coughing and sneezing etiquette at all times.

The use of face masks is recommended, while those with symptoms of infection or those with a high risk of developing a severe form of infection are advised from attending the event, until they have recovered.

Refreshments may be provided through service by the waitstaff or a dome set. However, buffets may be considered if the event is held at a private residence or privately at purpose-built premises.

If a buffet is served, the event organiser is required to assign specific waitstaff to serve the food to guests. It is also best to have several buffet tables to reduce crowding, while all waitstaff must wear face masks.

Failure to comply with the instructions is an offence under the Infectious Diseases Act (Chapter 204), which upon conviction, is punishable with a fine of up to BND10,000 or imprisonment of up to six months, or both.