Event planning has changed significantly in the face of Covid-19. It is more complex and involves more preparedness than functions required pre-pandemic. However, conducting a successful function that does not turn into a super-spreader event remains possible, provided its planners can keep additional precautions in mind during the planning process.
Adhering to CDC guidelines and state, federal, and local public health regulations should form the centerpiece of all event planning activities. The only way to ensure this happens is to create a checklist of strategies and activities to work against during event planning. Here, we discuss categories for a checklist and the actions required for each.
Many function planners insist that attendees undergo PCR testing for events and have proof of negative results to ensure admittance. Alternately, events can provide their own onsite testing by using a private medical service. These services can conduct at-home testing for Covid or large group testing for events. Corporate COVID testing can detect an active case of the virus at the door, before it has the chance to spread among your guests. Tests can provide results in 15 minutes or less for everyone’s peace of mind during the event.
In addition to testing, there are a few other communications to keep in mind.
Arrangements for pre-event testing and other regulations, such as mandatory mask-wearing, hand sanitizing, and social distancing, should be communicated to guests before an event.
These communications should include any extra measures being taken to enhance attendee safety, including explaining that no physical contact between guests, such as handshaking or hugging, will be permitted.
Inform them that all attendees must undergo a Covid-19 screening process, including a temperature check, and will deny anyone displaying symptoms access to the venue.
Finding a safe venue
When selecting a venue for an event, apply a stringent set of criteria to find a suitable one.
Speak to the owners or managers to determine what Covid protocols they implement to keep their venue clear of the virus, such as sanitizing and cleaning.
Determine what Covid protocols the venue applies to its staff, whether permanent or temporary. For example, are employees frequently screened and tested for Covid?
Evaluate a venue’s size to establish that it can accommodate the number of guests while still providing room for social distancing. A venue with a separate entrance and exit is preferable as it prevents people from brushing up against each other in their haste to enter or leave.
Inspect restrooms and set a limit on how many attendees can use them at one time. As bathrooms pose a Covid transfer risk, establish how often venue staff clean them and ensure that sufficient soap, hand sanitizer, and paper towels or air dryers are supplied.
Post sufficient signage as reminders
Most venues have Covid signage to remind visitors about preventing Covid transmission. However, planners should go the extra mile and create additional graphics to keep Covid protocols at the forefront of attendees’ minds.
Unfortunately, complacency is the greatest hindrance to getting rid of Covid. Every effort to remind guests of the realities of Covid should be implemented. This strategy includes having poster displays, information packs for guests, and rules for all staff and attendees.
Restrooms are a risk factor for transmitting Covid. Therefore, event organisers should develop strict regulations for restroom use and communicate them effectively throughout the venue and on each restroom’s door.
Choose a health-conscious caterer
Supplying food and beverages is arguably the greatest challenge when hosting events, as the process is inherently vulnerable to Covid transmission. This starts during preparation processes, so planners must verify the protocols caterers apply in the kitchen, such as wearing masks, gloves, and face shields. These precautions should also be taken when serving food at a function.
As it stands, buffets and finger food setups where guests serve themselves are not a safe approach. It is better to have catering staff handle the food as their employers must follow strict health guidelines. It is also wise to stagger mealtimes for large functions to avoid queuing. Some event planners find that prepackaged meals are ideal as guests do not stand in line to get them, thereby allowing them to remain socially distanced.
Recordkeeping and contact tracing
The paperwork for an event is of vital importance in the fight against Covid. Event organizers should keep all documentation as it could prove useful if someone tests positive for Covid after a function. The process starts when hosts issue invitations. Seating charts are helpful when contact tracing people from the event who may have been exposed to Covid. A primary event rule should be that guests sit according to the seating plan.
Organisers should also keep a register of attendees and their responses to any Covid screening questions, including their temperature reading. Where they insisted on proof of a negative Covid test, copies of such documents should be kept. Recordkeeping can be a lifesaver when tracking people who might have been exposed to someone with Covid and could also cover the organizer if someone tries to bring legal action against them should they become infected at the event.