Festivals and Events Legislation

It’s been a long time coming but our favorite music festivals and hometown events are back on the schedule. It’s a good time for municipalities to review their festivals and events legislation to make sure they are current with health, safety, and other related issues in the not-quite-post-COVID world.

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An unplanned hiatus for festivals

Festival organizers across the country saw the writing on the wall in March 2020 as states issued stay-at-home orders and cities went into lockdown attempting to limit the spread of COVID-19. With guidelines regulating and limiting non-essential services and gatherings, most event coordinators chose to postpone or cancel festivals altogether for the rest of the year.

For the next 18+ months, beloved fairs, conventions, and other public celebrations basically disappeared from our communities. Entertainment opportunities that had regularly brought tourism and economic benefits to municipalities and local businesses were dearly missed by all.

Let’s get together

A keen yearning to return to pre-pandemic social gatherings has grown considerably. The emergence and delivery of vaccines has created a much-needed opportunity to bring back large-scale gatherings. While not completely conquered, the dangers of the pandemic have significantly decreased as more of the population gets vaccinated and receives the recommended “booster” doses.

But over the span of the pandemic, an increased awareness of health and safety issues as well as community quality of life concerns has occurred for local governments and their citizens. Most are ready to get back to “normal” activities, but are there matters to be addressed as the world looks to COVID-19 transforming from a pandemic to an endemic situation?

Gathering in a mid-pandemic world

When the pandemic was at its peak, most (though not all) concerts, conventions, award shows, etc., required all or some of the following protocols: proof of vaccination and/or negative COVID tests, face masks or coverings, access to hand sanitizer, limited or no food vendors, and reduced numbers of attendees.

As state and local mandates have expired, so too have the restrictions required by event organizers. Masking, vaccination verification, COVID testing, and the rest have gone by the wayside in hopes of drawing larger numbers of attendees and recouping the economic losses brought on by the pandemic.

Local Government Legislative Response

So moving forward, how do municipalities ensure that events in their area remain safe and don’t disturb the quality of life of their citizens? By reviewing any ordinances that are already in place and confirming they meet the current standards and desires of the community. Further, municipal officials should look for any gaps in local legislation that need to be addressed.

Legislative topics and chapters that are getting the most attention at this time include:

  • Peace and good order
  • Noise
  • Traffic laws
  • Sanitation
  • Zoning
  • Business licenses
  • Property maintenance
  • Health regulations

Do you need help ensuring your municipal code is consistent and accurate regarding this topic and other chapters? An editorial and legal analysis might be in order if your code hasn’t been reviewed in a few years.

Useful examples of festivals and events legislation from the eCode360® Library

If your community is interested in legislating or updating ordinances that regulate festivals and large-scale gatherings, here are some useful examples that can be found in our eCode360 Library:

Updating your municipal code is vitally important

As local governments continue to adjust and transform digitally to the ever-shifting needs of the COVID-19 era, keeping municipal codes updated has become more essential than ever. It’s important to sustain orderly and accessible knowledge of the most current regulations and resolutions in a timely manner.

We encourage our clients to submit code updates as soon as possible to make sure constituents and local government officials are always referencing and working with the most up-to-date resources. Clients can send legislation to [email protected]. General Code can also work with you to set up a schedule for submitting and codifying your ordinances.

Best Practices for Managing Your Codification Budget

Many of our client communities find it helpful to be on a code update schedule to help manage their budgets throughout the year. Our Client Care Advocates can work with you and explain the options and benefits of scheduled code updates. Give them a call at 800.836.8834 or send an email to [email protected]. They’d be happy to help or answer any other codification questions you might have.


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