We’re all in this together. Please share this event safety guide with your event industry friends as we all want everyone to be safe and healthy when we finally get back to F2F events. Note: this guide in June 2020. We’ll keep this updated as new guidelines are published and new information is available to the public.
Event Safety Post-COVID-19: We’re all in this together 🙏
Sadly, the live events industry is down on its knees as a result of COVID-19.
In terms of attracting attendees, the pandemic has caused a real trauma for all of us and will certainly leave a footprint in our minds for decades to come. Nobody can guarantee that COVID-19 won’t return.
In fact, scientists agree that we should expect smaller epidemic waves over the next few years. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
F2F events offer unmatched opportunities to help companies generate business opportunities and spark connections, experts question whether virtual can replace the buzz, creativity and sheer vibrancy of a live in-person event.
F2F events offer unmatched opportunities to help companies generate business opportunities and spark connections.
As the debate continues and the world is preparing for “the new normal”, one thing is almost certain:
do needwill change.
And, of course, live event safety post Covid-19 cannot be as simple as requiring attendees to wear a mask.
New guidelines, frameworks and policies will seem more regimented from an attendee’s point-of-view but on the other hand will also likely provide reassurance to many.
In collaboration with event industry experts, guided by trustworthy resources like the World Health Organization (WHO), and by peeking into what’s going on at some of the largest events in the world, we’ve put together this guide to help you and your attendees keep safe.
How to use this Post-Covid-19 guide to event safety
As you can imagine, It’s hard to strike the balance between being a simple checklist and consideration of all options. It’s a very complex world of government guidelines, best practices, and commercial feasibility.
As an on-site event management company, our primary focus here will be to safeguard you, your staff, and your attendees during your live event. We’ll provide guidelines of things you can actually do rather than things you can buy as we appreciate it’s not an easy time economically.
Please note that the best practices mentioned in this guide don’t apply everywhere. The Covid-19 pandemic creates different challenges depending on countless factors like the size of your event, the geographic location, the venue itself, the number of attendees, to name just a few.
And while many of the action steps outlined in this guide are self-explanatory and logical, it’s the attention to detail and a proactive communication with all stakeholders that will result in safer events.
Remember, there is no guarantee of an illness-free event. Please liaise to the section “Further Reading” for additional resources and information.
Enjoy the read and please stay safe!
Post-COVID-19 Event Safety : Where to begin?
Congress centres, exhibitions and venues are starting to open their doors.
Meeting venues like Wynn in Las Vegas have been introducing health & sanitation plans for reopening with safety precautions that go beyond social distancing and wearing face masks.
These measurements include thermal cameras at entry points, caps on gathering size and instructions for different aspects of the hotel’s operations, including staff training and new cleaning policies.
It shows that it’s not only important to have measurements in place, it’s also key to communicate them to all stakeholders frequently and proactively.
At the same time, we see other industries implementing various safety measures, for example one-directional flow of people in bars and restaurants or the usage of apps to book restaurant slots and help manage numbers.
Bar customers, for example, can pre-order their seat based on social distancing rules, then pre-order their meals and drinks via the app.
“I think it will be a mix of messaging and encouraging expected ‘safe behaviors. Tech can support some of it and a lot will be about behavior management.” - Michele Smith Atty (Event Technology Veteran)
How will this apply to the events industry is the question.
How COVID-19 Will Change Pre-Event Planning
As you know, the pre-event planning stage can hugely affect onsite operations & logistics.
Pre-event online registration will play a crucial role communicating with key stakeholders, capturing important data and tying this all in with your mobile app & onsite technology.
While 2019 was all about using data to personalize the experience, 2020 & beyond is about safeguarding the attendees.
Registration systems like Swoogo & Co. will allow your delegates to book dedicated visiting time slots for your event.
What data should you capture during registration?
So where do you even start and what data should you capture?
- Additional demographics: Capturing demographic data such as age & gender alongside health-related information allows you to easily identify potential high-risk or vulnerable groups defined by the CDC (Center for Disease Control). Alongside capturing demographic data, the use of GDPR compliant forms will be necessary
- Recent exposure: What countries have people travelled to in the past 90 days can indicate exposure and potential risk. This can be verified through passport checks during check-in
- Visitor time slots: With capacity restrictions, venues may restrict the time when visitors can attend. Online registration allows attendees to book a convenient time slot and that time slot can also be printed on the badge
- Photo Upload: Uploading a photo during registration can not only add an extra layer of security by printing it on the badge it can also be useful if you’re planning on using facial recognition software
- Session time booking: Allow your attendees to book certain sessions in advance so that room capacity is adequate
- Emergency contact information: Who should you contact in case an attendee falls ill
You need to also think about a few other questions, for example:
- How will affected attendees be transported back home?
- How will they arrange for a doctor’s visit?
- Where will they remain in the venue while they’re waiting?
- How will you communicate to an attendee that they’re not allowed due to high fever or other alarming symptoms?
Attendees need to understand what organizers are doing to keep them safe. Organizers need to know what the venue is doing to keep them safe.
Venues need to know what the destination is doing to keep them safe. Communication is absolutely essential which leads us to the next phase in the post COVID-19 onsite safety guide.
“Older adults and persons with severe underlying health conditions are considered to be at increased risk of more serious illness after contracting COVID-19. Ensure the safety of these groups of people”
Signage & Communication
Signage will need to go beyond the “Registration Here, Check-In Table or Cloakroom Here” signs.
Use physical signage at registration and alongside key paths, as well as in common areas such as F&B, to display the correct distance people need to adhere to.
What information should you be adding?
- Remind attendees about the signs of the disease and symptoms
- Educate about the current pandemic state in the country, state or city.
- Provide information on local health care and emergency steps
- Remind about sanitization, hygiene, and hand-washing
- Advice on social distancing rules and hand-shake policies
- Remind people to be wearing face masks at all times
Signage comes in all forms and shapes. From floor stickers, to social distancing measures, to attendee hand-outs and medical messages.
Ultimately, it’s all coming down to re-assuring your attendees that you’re doing everything in your control to keep attendees safe and healthy.
COVID-19 Event safety tips for onsite operations
One-way routes and lane layout
Moving forward with live events, we need to consider things like one-way routes from and back to car parking spaces and a good queue management system to maintain capacity and social distancing.
Temperature scans & isolation areas
Before people start entering the venue itself you can have staff check for people wearing masks being or conduct at-random temperature checks. It’s also a good opportunity to have hand sanitizer stations available.
Although, there are some doubts about the efficiency of thermal cameras, these will be the standards:
These small cameras are able to instantly measure the body temperature of each visitor in a non-invasive and passive way.
Organizers should take visitors displaying temperatures of over 100 °F to a secondary area to check for temperature manually and quarantine the visitor if necessary.
Choosing a venue not equipped for thermal scanning will jeopardize the security of your event and add layers of cost for you to roll it out independently.
Face mask checks, manually or via technology
Either manually through a staff member or via technology. Ultimately, you want to make sure that no one is allowed access to the venue who doesn’t wear a face mask or doesn’t wear it properly.
Implement social distancing rules
Everyone is familiar with social distancing and keeping your distance. It’s just a matter of managing it effectively onsite.
Public health authorities suggest keeping everyone at least six feet (about two meters) to the person closest to them. These restrictions are most likely to remain in place in the near future.
Looking at what grocery stores are currently implementing may give you an indication of where we are heading.
Consider putting tape down indicating how far people are standing in the queue and how far they should be away from each other.
Further, sources from the Event Safety Alliance suggest that where a task cannot be accomplished working alone, staff should limit their exposure by forming a team in which people routinely work together, but they keep their distance from everyone else.
Sanitizing stations & hygiene
Frequent hand washing with soap will be vital for all to help fight the spread of the virus.
Where a restroom or sink is close by, staff should wash their hands for twenty seconds at least every hour. The same protocol should apply for your staff leaving the shift.
Ask all visitors to use hand sanitizers before entering the venue and make sanitizer available throughout the event. Ensure to provide ample hand sanitizing stations, even pump bottles, or disinfectant wipes on registration tables and stations.
You can also hand out hand sanitizer when they register for your event.
During our research, we’ve even seen sanitizing stations where people can walk through as seen in the picture below:
If those machines will become the new normal is questionable and only time can tell.
What about name badges?
Name badges, exit times & allocated time slots
Name badges are a useful tool to ensure safety and streamlined operations during your event.
You can color-code the badges indicating the different time slots in which people will be allowed to access the event.
Further, you can print the exit times on the badge as well, making everyone aware when places should be swapped with our visitors.
Personalized agendas on badges will help people find the right session. Badge pouch sanitizers will be a useful addition to the attendee experience.
Face coverings, gloves & sneeze etiquette
Within six feet, physical respiratory protection such as a cloth face covering should be worn because COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets and a significant number of people will show no symptoms of illness.
Your on-site staff and all members of your team should be required to wear face masks and gloves at all times.
Implement No-Hand-Shake & Sneeze Policies
Implement a “No Hand-Shake” policy at the event. Instead, encourage attendees to use fist bumps, virtual hugs or any other mechanism to replace the handshake during the crisis.
You should also consider implementing a cough & sneeze etiquette requiring team members to cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue, or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available, followed by handwashing.
Arrange cleaning schedules
For your registration desk & onsite check-in, you should have cleaning schedules for all equipment where there is a regular amount of exposure.
Use staffed check-in stations
We recommend our customers to staff the check-in stations to prevent attendees touching the screens. Alternatively, you can provide disposable styluses to prevent the spread of the virus. In addition, people should be picking up their own badge from the printers as compared to you doing that for them.
Staggered check-in windows would be good.
Encourage attendees to self-report
Attendees should not only be encouraged to report to the event organizer if they’re feeling unwell, they should also be encouraged to stay at home if they are showing symptoms.
“Attendees who have a runny or stuffy nose, fever, cough, sore throat, symptoms of diarrhea, and symptoms of vomitting within the previous two weeks of the event should not attend the event. Event organizers should make no exceptions. Keep in mind with spring allergy seasons ahead of us, this will be a tough call.”
Hosting meetings and events in a post-COVID-19 era will require planners and venues to collaborate and adjust. It will take a combined effort to restart our industry and keep attendees and staff safe.
Below are a few resources we found invaluable when creating this guide. Please appreciate the hard work some our industry friends have put in to create resources that protect.
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- MPI coronavirus resources
- Key planning recommendations for mass gatherings
- Meetings Industry Association
- Center for Disease Control & Prevention
- Event Safety Alliance