10 Ways to Protect Event Goers from Coronavirus
The onset of COVID-19 is going to change how society operates. We will all (hopefully) be cleaner as individuals, and the institutions that we go to will adopt some of the new cleaning processes initiated during the pandemic to their daily regimens. Events will follow suit, that is of course, once it's safe for people to gather in large quantities again.
Optimistically speaking, events could slowly get back into motion in the summer months of 2020. Depending on what the ‘second wave’ looks like as we get into fall, we may only be looking at Q3 events (July-Septemberish) and have to slow down again during flu season.
The Debbie Downer scenario is that until there is a cure or a vaccine available, everything will be on pause. The conference industry could be at a standstill likely until the end of 2021 while smaller events start back up with an attendance limit toward the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021.
Wherever we fall on this spectrum, one thing is for certain - there will be new precautions at all events to promote public health and safety. Here are a few key tactics to consider, but please visit the CDC website for more information on large gatherings as it pertains to coronavirus.
- Start with yourself and your team. Promote everyday preventive actions to your staff, volunteers, and attendees (hand-washing, etc.). Consider also putting signs in the bathroom or by the food and drink areas to remind people to wash their hands.
- Provide COVID-19 prevention supplies at your events. Some people will be very paranoid, and some will be annoyed that everyone is still talking about it. As the host, accommodate all perspectives. Have masks and hand sanitizers for those who want them. You could even consider making this a part of the welcome/gift bags or having hand sanitizing stands scattered throughout the event.
- Plan for staff and volunteer absences. No one should feel pressured to come into public if they feel even slightly under the weather. Encourage your team to stay home if they feel any symptoms.
- Promote messages that discourage people who are sick from attending your event. For example, list something as follows on the ticketing page and on event reminder emails -
“The health and safety of all attendees is a top priority. If you are experiencing any symptoms, from a runny nose to a fever, please stay home.”
- If possible, identify a space that can be used to isolate staff or attendees who may become ill while they are at the event stocked with water, masks, and hand sanitizer. Ask that person where they have walked and touched during their time at the event, and try to wipe those areas down with household cleaning supplies.
- Plan ways to limit in-person contact for staff and volunteers at your event. What aspects of the event can be handsfree?
- Develop ﬂexible refund policies for participants.
Identify actions to take if you need to postpone or cancel your event.
- Encourage people to elbow shake rather than shake hands.
- Keep cleaning supplies on hand as needed to wipe down microphones, clickers, or anything that is frequently touched during the production of the event.
Once the coast is clear, everyone is going to be eager to gather with friends and family to celebrate a new day or attend their next conference to get their business back on track. Until then, new ideas and precautions can be set into place to welcome a new event era that is cleaner, safer, and all-around better than it once was.