Event Management in a Post COVID-19 World
Event Management in a Post COVID-19 World
After this Omicron shaped bump in the road, the signs are finally pointing towards us moving out of having COVID as a driving factor alongside planning events, and back to the excitement and creativity of ‘no holds barred’ live events.
Having just delivered a huge show that took place alongside COP26 for the New York Times, we’d predict that, generally speaking, everything is going to feel much more normal but there are still some important things to think about.
For the NYT, their approach to COVID security went beyond the base level legal requirements in Scotland at the time and they had COVID as an important agenda item throughout the planning discussions.
This was a complicated balancing act between taking steps to reduce the risk, without alienating their paying customers with excessive controls. The event needed to deliver on their investment in terms of coverage and attendance – as well as satisfying financial targets and sponsor contracts. Reputational risk was a big consideration but also the understanding that most delegates would be attending completely voluntary basis and as such, assume a certain level of personal risk and responsibility.
For every event, there needs to be give and take across all these different perspectives – there is no one size fits all COVID protocol.
The following are the areas that need consideration and discussion as early as possible in the process:
- Delegate screening – the following could be considered even if the legal requirement to isolate is removed with the ‘lightest touch’ at the top, down to the strictest option:
- Ask guests with a positive result to stay at home
- Ask guests with symptoms, or awaiting a PCR result to stay at home
- Consider extending this to include guests who have a member of their household who is positive / symptoms / awaiting a result to also stay away
- Consider asking guests to show a valid COVID Status on arrival. This uses existing technology (NHS app) and works on reducing the consequences by ensuring the majority of your audience are fully vaccinated. It does ask for negative test results as an alternative if you’re not vaccinated – but that doesn’t protect you, it just helps lower the overall risk.
- Request guests test – but no proof required as the majority will do so anyway; thus reducing your risk of an infected delegate attending
- Request ‘self-declaration’ proof of a negative lateral flow test prior to gaining entry e.g. cassette / photo of cassette / text or email from NHS from self-reported result
- In person testing on arrival
- Include COVID in your normal event risk assessment
- Scrutinise the ventilation in your venue
- It should be a fresh air system and NOT a re-circulation
- Consider installing portable air cleaning devices for areas with poor or no natural (doors or windows you can open safely) or mechanical (air con systems) ventilation
- Introduce policies for opening windows / doors regularly and during all breaks depending on what’s appropriate for the situation. Give this responsibility to a named person to make sure it gets done!
- General communication inclusions
- Respect others personal space
- Consider suggesting that handshakes / hugs should be avoided – or at least to check that the other person is comfortable with the contact first
- General hygiene eg. sneeze / cough into elbows or tissues, bin tissues, wash hands
- Wear a mask if you prefer to
- Mental safety
- Ensure comprehensive communication around safety measures to your attendees
- Offer a direct contact / easy way to speak to someone about any concerns
- Check your supply chain
- Both from a COVID policy angle (are they taking reasonable precautions?) and also to double check they have contingency plans in place in case they are unable to work due to illness
- Look after your team
- Contingency planning is vital but often overlooked in event teams.
- Let’s keep the COVID good practice of buddy systems and additional time for briefing to take the risk / burden of the event from a single event manager
- Use Zoom briefings and inspections where appropriate
The Final Word
In our desire to ‘get back’ to the way things were, let’s not forget the benefits of the way things are. Let’s carry forward a respect for our fellows and their mental and physical health, an awareness that your audience will have a wide range of ‘risk perception’ when it comes to COVID and make the most of event project meetings without the 4-hour round trip to get there!
Our Common Q&As
Is COVID still important at events?
Yes. Employers and therefore all corporate event planners in the UK have existing responsibilities under the Health & Safety at Work Act to take reasonable steps to protect their staff; and anyone else affected by their work; from foreseeable risks, of which you can argue that COVID is still one. So, it’s not rolled back to 2019 just yet.
There is also still considerable amounts of government issued guidance on measures we should consider at events and in the workplace.
Don’t forget that even if you / your client is less risk averse and happy with minimal measures, there are likely to be attendees who aren’t as relaxed as you and it’s for their benefit that you should take steps to reduce the risk if you can.
Do I need to wear a mask / social distance / test people at my events?
The actual rules have gone so it’s up to you and your client to assess the event and put your own measures in place depending on the risk.
Do We Need A COVID Risk Assessment for Events?
No! Good news, the COVID risk has now been downgraded – but it should still be considered in your normal event risk assessment.
Do I need to test attendees at my event?
No! It’s up to your risk assessment to determine the level of delegate screening you need – see above for the options.
How can Hybrid Event Solutions help?
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