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Association of Circus Proprietors of Great Britain

The professional body for the circus industry


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The following information has been provided by the Association of Circus Proprietors of Great Britain (ACP), a Government recognised membership organisation representing member Circuses in the UK.

Tented Circus shows represent a rich heritage which originated in the UK more than 250 years ago. ACP Circuses are run by dedicated professional people, committed to keeping the tradition thriving and bringing joy to hundreds of thousands of people right across the country.

Tented Circus events have their own specific criteria set out for safe working with COVID-19 and these are addressed as follows:

Risk at Work

It is recognised that Circuses are like any other business and as such must comply with all directives for managing Risk at Work which is covered at the following link.

Legislation / Engagement with Councils, businesses, local transport authorities in respect of site bookings-Best Practice

There are now numerous Acts of Parliament governing the regulations in respect of dealing with the spread of COVID-19. Amongst others the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (Number 3) Regulations 2020 which came into force on 18 July 2020.

These regulations give local authorities powers to issue directions imposing prohibitions, requirements or restrictions in relation to the holding of events and the use of their outdoor spaces.

It is therefore of paramount importance when dealing with councils that the Circus submits its Health & Safety paperwork (in-particular their COVID-19 Risk Assessments and Method Statements) in plenty of time to the local authority public health and safety advisory group(s). Particular attention should be paid to assessing any risks to the local area from increased visitors and potentially applying additional mitigations.

COVID-19 Manager

Each Circus must have a nominated COVID-19 manager with responsibility for managing all aspects of the risk, whose responsibilities include overseeing social distancing and managing processes for attendees, staff and artistes. The Covid manager should also supervise training, testing and cleaning.
Last Updated 15 March February 2021

COVID-19 Compliance

The law requires that all businesses produce a COVID-19 Risk Assessments and Protocols document detailing the identified risks and putting mitigating controls in place. These documents MUST be available at all times and be shown upon request.

Circuses must cascade this information to all their staff whether in writing or in the form of regular briefings and have clear signage on additional controls where applicable.
See section 4.17 for specific to training and communication in the performing arts
Last Updated 10 February 2021

Tickets & Queueing

Where practicable ticket sales should be cashless and on-line ticket sales customers should pre-print their own tickets or download tickets onto their mobile devices. Where ticket sales take place on the day of the event any queueing should be outdoors with social distancing maintained. 2 metre social distancing measures at entrances to be implemented to control / maintain numbers arriving at the same time.

If queues are expected then thought should be given to where / how people will queue for the ticket office and sufficient space allocated to allow for the queue numbers anticipated.
Last Updated 10 February 2021
Further guidance can be obtained from 5.3 and the following:
Last Updated 26 June 2020
Last Updated 10 February 2021

Track and Trace

Contact details for the customer booking Circus tickets will be taken at the time of purchase and retained in line with current Government guidelines.

Circuses must keep a record for 21 days of all customers, visitors and staff and display an official NHS QR code poster, which will be displayed at all entrances.

Click on the link for more information in the section on NHS Test and Trace and the guidance on maintaining records to support NHS Test and Trace.
Last Updated 21 March 2021

To create a COVID-19 NHS QR code for your venue
Use this service to create a QR code for display in your venue. All visitors will be encouraged to scan the QR code when they arrive, using the NHS COVID-19 app. This is to help trace and stop the spread of COVID-19. A separate QR code MUST be created for each venue/location.
COVID Signage to be displayed.

To report a case of COVID-19 or if you have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 visit or call 119 if you have no internet access.
Full details can be obtained from
Last Updated 11 January 2021


Within the seated arena at a ticketed event, audience capacity should be dependent on Big Top capacity observing current “1 metre plus” social distancing Government guidelines.

Consideration should also be given to the seating of Family groups, e.g., larger customer bubbles who may wish to be seated together. The rule of 6 guidelines must be followed so even if a family “Bubble” of more than 6 people wish to visit the Circus, they should be seated in maximum groups of 6 people before the required social distancing gap and then the remainder of the group.

All seats at these events are forward facing, which is recognised as a safer environment in reducing the potential for cross-infection.
Paying attention to the following sections 5.1, to 5.4.
Last Updated 10 February 2021

Where “1 metre plus” social distancing is in place additional mitigating controls must be observed. These will include:
Enhanced ventilation, monitoring of CO2 levels to ensure they remain below 1000 parts per million, forward facing audiences, the wearing of face-covering by the public, hand sanitising stations at the entrances and exits, enhanced sanitation of the auditorium between and after performances.

Facial coverings

Circuses will comply with Government guidelines on the wearing of face coverings.

Face coverings will be mandatory inside the big top and in any indoor and or enclosed space or where required to do so by law. This is especially important when customers are coming into contact with people they do not normally meet (e.g. foyer tent and toilets). Some medical exemptions may apply.

Face coverings will be available for customers that fail to bring their own.
Signage will be clearly displayed to ensure face coverings are worn at all times.

Detailed information can be found at the following links:

Face Coverings -
Last Updated 15 March 2021

Staff PPE

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) protects the user against health or safety risks at work. Staff will be provided with appropriate PPE in the forms of screens, visors, face coverings, hand sanitiser or gloves depending on the role undertaken as defined in the COVID-19 Risk Assessment.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) -
Last Updated 15 March 2021

One-Way Systems

Sign-posted one-way entry and exit systems will be used to ensure social distancing and appropriate queuing.

Stewards will be available to guide the public and remind them to maintain appropriate social distancing.

Circus Big Top tents, by their nature, have the option of creating additional exits and entrances to manage social distancing needs where applicable.

A one-way system should also be operated for the entry and exit of artistes from the performing area. Sufficient time will be allowed between performances to give the audience adequate time leaving a performance before the next set of patrons arrive for subsequent performance(s).

Minimising transmission through Contact –
Last Updated 15 March 2021

This will also give time for cleaning and sanitising of the auditorium between performances.
Guidance for this can be found at the following link and scrolling to 5.6
Last Updated 15 March 2021


All Artistes appearing in the circus ring or on stage must not participate in close contact audience participation. It should be noted that Touring Circuses travel with their mobile homes and, therefore, once on site do not need to travel to work as the venue is situated adjacent to their homes.

This will further reduce risks associated with travelling to work.

During the performance Artistes will stay within the performing area and the public will stay in their seats or designated outdoor areas.
Last Updated 15 March 2021

Sale of Merchandise

Customers will be asked to follow a one-way queueing system(s) with social distancing. Sales of merchandise should be undertaken by following the rules for existing retail sales. Non-cash payments will be encouraged where possible.

Customers should select from displayed items only and not be permitted to touch display items. Staff to wear appropriate PPE or be protected behind screens.

Further guidance can be found at the following link
Last Updated 15 March 2021

Sale of Food and Beverages

The “take-away food” industry guidelines should be complied with. Food served should be in appropriate packaging (closed boxes or bags) and will be served by staff wearing appropriate PPE, ensuring that food is not touched and served to the customer in closed individual containers. Customers shall not be permitted to touch items such as condiments and to request what they want from the server or have them provided in individual serving portion packs.

All queueing should be done to comply with social distancing at 2 metres where practicable.

Where practicable, non-cash payments will be encouraged.

The following link sets out practices to serve food and drink to your customers.
Last Updated 15 March 2021


Prop handling should be limited to the minimum possible number of people and enhanced cleaning will be introduced. Props should be thoroughly cleaned after every performance, and between acts if appropriate, particularly if touched by multiple people.

Where practicable, and within the Circus performance where props are handled by different people they should be cleaned between uses. The handling of key props should be limited to the artist and/or dedicated staff member.

Checking for COVID-19 symptoms

Staff must complete self-declaration forms stating that they have not had any COVID-19 symptoms, or been in contact with anyone who has had COVID-19 in the previous 14 days.

COVID-19 manager to record daily symptom checks for all staff and artistes. A protocol document should be developed for when an audience member or member of staff has suspected symptoms and guided by local authorities.

If a staff member (or anyone in their household) develops a new persistent cough, a high temperature or a loss of taste or smell, they will be requested to isolate immediately and get a government COVID test.
Then test staff every 2 days until a negative test.
Customers (or anyone in their household) with these coronavirus symptoms will be turned away.
Last Updated 18 March 2021

Reporting a case of COVID-19

To report a case of COVID-19 or if you have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 visit:

If they have an incidence of coronavirus in your workplace, use Public Health England’s (PHE) COVID-19 early outbreak management action cards, which provide key steps to quickly identify and contain any potential COVID-19 outbreaks.
Last updated 15 March 2021

Or call the NHS test and trace number 119 if there have no internet access.
Full details can be found from the following link.
Last Updated 11 January 2021

Anyone showing symptoms should follow the government protocol of test and trace at the earliest opportunity. Guidance to co-operation with the governments track and trace system can be found at item 1.5 in the following link:

Close Contact Cohorts (Bubbles)

Different Acts will form a close contact bubble. This is because these persons will not be able to carry out their jobs without being less than 2m from each other and will need to interact in a way that means that they are less than 1m at times.

Those within the bubble will effectively become a Close Contact Family group, and for the duration that they are with the Circus, the persons will be required to form a bubble for each act.

As part of a bubble those persons will be reminded that this applies to their act only and that in all other areas of work, social distancing and mitigating controls will still need to be adhered to.

If someone within your bubble develops symptoms of COVID-19, they must immediately get tested and you and everyone within your bubble must self-isolate until you receive a negative result.

If you get a positive result then everyone must then follow the government guidelines for test, trace and self-isolating. Release from self-isolation is dependent on a daily covid negative test.
Last Updated 15 March 2021


Cleaning of touchpoints including seating, handrails, private and public areas of the Circus premises must be undertaken as often as possible before and in between shows. Strategically placed sanitising stations to be provided for customers and staff members.

Trained staff using suitable cleaning equipment and PPE should undertake cleaning of touchpoints, surfaces and appropriate cleaning of the show site between performances.

Additional measures should be put in place to ensure that all cleaning processes are managed and monitored by the COVID-19 manager to ensure due diligence. Staff will be asked to wash their hands frequently and use hand sanitiser regularly.

Further reference to this can be found below at this link
Last Updated 15 March 2021


Waste bins front of house should be foot operated or not have lids to avoid touch points for both the staff and audience members. When emptying bins care should be taken to wear gloves to avoid contact with the contents.
Last Updated 10 February 2021

Work Processes

Reviewing of work processes and schedules should be undertaken regularly to ensure current social and physical distancing of 2 metres, or “1 metre plus”. This includes for example: the use of floor markings, one-way flow at entry and exit points or keep left where paths allow for social distancing to be observed.

Specific guidance with these measures in managing risk can be found at:
Last Updated 10 February 2021

Personal Hygiene

Hand washing and/or hand sanitisers to be available for the artistes and the audience including backstage, front of house, café, foyer entrance ways, ticket office, and entrance to toilets.
Last Updated 10 February 2021

Ventilation and Airflow

Increase fresh air ventilation in enclosed Big Top structures and marquees.

When deemed necessary and where practicable, the top of the tent where the King Poles go through the tent should be opened up to allow hot air to rise upwards and out of the tent allowing cool air to enter below, unless an alternative ventilation system is used. However it should be recognised that all Circus big tops allow air to escape through the roof membrane, especially around the lacing points.

The side walls of the tented structure should be lifted or removed or fans used to ensure that fresh air can fully circulate within the venue before and/or during performances to ensure good ventilation.

CO2 Monitors will also be used inside the big top to check levels of CO2 which indicate the amount of ventilation within the Big Top. The typical level of CO2 found in occupied spaces with good air exchange should not persistently exceed 1000 parts per million.
When considering appropriate airflow please review the guidance here

Personal Workspace Sanitation Measures

It is important that staff and artistes keep their working areas clean and tidy, limiting personal items, using personal equipment to avoid sharing and keeping work areas well ventilated. Staff and artistes will ensure that they clean everything before and after use, including mobile devices. Fogging is an option for cleaning large spaces.

Further Guidance can be found here
Last Updated 10 February 2021

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

An adequate supply of PPE will be provided where a risk assessment identifies the need to wear PPE as a requirement of completing a particular task. In all settings staff and artistes should observe social distancing measures where practicable and practice good hand hygiene behaviours in the first instance, as PPE is an additional control and not a replacement for social distancing or good hygiene.

The COVID-19 Manager is responsible for ensuring there is a sufficient supply of PPE at all times.

Detailed advice can be found at the following link.
Last Updated 10 February 2021

Addressing Mental Health issues related to COVID-19

Circuses should be aware of the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of management, artistes, staff and audiences.

If a member of staff becomes stressed and anxious, they should talk to the COVID-19 manager in the first instance.

To ensure that audiences feel fully informed, there will be notices or announcements informing them of the precautions taken to ensure their safety and general COVID-19 compliance to reduce any feeling of anxiety. If they have any questions they can relay them to the front of house manager or box office.
See section 3 – Last updated 10 February 2021

Specific to the performing arts further help can be obtained at the following link:

Help to all sectors of society can be found here:

First Aid

In addition to the usual first aid measures, thoughts should be given to ‘close contact’ with a patient suspected of having, or showing, COVID-19 symptoms. When treating a patient with suspected symptoms, they should first be isolated in a separate area and due diligence should be taken to protect those treating the person from COVID-19 infection.

Always use adequate PPE – gloves, aprons, face masks etc and follow the appropriate reporting procedures for suspected cases.

If the patient is non responsive or if in doubt always call 119 / 999 immediately.

If any patient is showing symptoms of COVID-19 ensure that all disposable items are safely discarded and any reusable ones are thoroughly cleaned. All waste should be double bagged before disposal and any relevant waste disposal guidelines

Emergency procedures / Evacuation

Any existing evacuation plans to be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure they are still applicable given any layout amendments etc. and that they have incorporated any of the controls identified in the COVID-19 risk assessment and the fire risk assessment.

Public Health England Health Protection Team:
Public Health England Health Protection Acute Response Centre (ARC)
Main Switchboard 020 7654 8000 /

Document Authors & Thanks

This information has been collated by the Association of Circus Proprietors of Great Britain (ACP) Sub-Committee Chaired by member Niven Lawson, and consisting Jade Dunbar, Guy James, Pat Randelle, John Haze, Beau Denning, Matthew Wingate and Secretary Paul Archer in association with the Association of Independent Showman (AIS) and The Showman’s Guild to assist with guidance for operating Circuses through the COVID 19 pandemic and should be taken ‘as is’ to assist Circuses to comply with guidance and legislation as of 22 March 2021.

We would like to thank Andrew Nixon from the Association of Independent Showmen (AIS) and Desmond FitzGerald of The Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain for their contributions.

Legal Disclaimer

This is general guidance on general questions, as at the date of publishing. It does not deal with your specific circumstances or constitute professional advice. You should take into account the specific circumstances of your business. You also should take into account that things change. No representation or warranty (express or implied) is given as to the accuracy or completeness of the guidance, and, to the extent permitted by law, Association of Circus Proprietors of Great Britain, their members, employees and advisers do not accept or assume any liability, responsibility or duty of care for any consequences (including death or personal injury) of you or anyone else acting, or refraining to act, in reliance on this guidance or for any decision based on it.



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