As the meetings and events industry continues to navigate the shifting post-pandemic landscape, planning and integrating the multitude of health safety updates will become essential to the successful return of in-person meetings and events. Attendees will require reassurance that the venue and event organizers take adequate precautions to execute social distancing best practices to keep them safe. Going forward, it is the event planner's responsibility to ensure events are prepared and to communicate important health safety information to their participants.
As groups begin this monumental task of re-starting the event planning process, they will encounter different timelines based on state and local policies. As Disney World in Florida plans to re-open in July, it is likely that live events will soon follow with some form of revised safety precautions and most noticeably a scaled-down attendance.
Some cities and states will take more time to ensure the safety regulations can be implemented on their timeline, not necessarily that of any industry pressures. For example, on June 3, Chicago entered Phase 3 of its re-opening plan, but conventions and other large events won’t return until Phase 5. The timing between phases is uncertain due to progress being dependent on infection rate and strain on the healthcare system.
Currently, health safety is a moving target with policies and guidelines changing as more is learned about COVID-19. The following checklist of to-do items is designed for reference as you plan your live event.
- Obtain the most up-to-date guidelines and safety requirements from each venue where your event will be hosting functions.
- Designate a point of contact from your organization to establish an open line of communication with a representative from the local health department.
- Monitor statewide announcements from the Governor’s Office that may impact your event.
- Ask your venue(s) if any other event(s) are being held during the same time period to understand the traffic flow and any potential "mixing" of groups.
- Purchase any required health safety products such as hand sanitizer, masks, other PPE or thermometers if your venues do not provide them.
- Notify all event participants of the onsite procedures so that there are no surprises when they arrive onsite.
- Implement on-site health safety procedures and requirements for attendance.
- Distribute health safety products as needed.
- Communicate with your venues to ensure safe practices are being maintained for both front-of-house as well as back-of-house.
- Continue to check with local and state resources to receive daily briefings and updates.
- Monitor event participants’ health and report any instances of COVID-19 to the proper channels.
- Create and collect a post-event survey that includes questions about the safety procedures you implemented so that you can understand how they were received by your participants.
- Continue communication with your venues to determine if they have seen any post-event outbreaks inside their facilities that could impact the health of your group.
While we look forward to the return of in-person meetings and events, we are seeing a high percentage of groups include some form of virtual experience into their planning, as well. Tapping into hybrid options will allow for potentially greater outreach while also helping with liability options that may come into play with any new health safety procedures you implement for the onsite portion of your event.
Once you establish your health safety plan, you can communicate the information to your attendees, providing transparency and awareness. Having a health safety plan in place will give both you and your attendees peace of mind that health safety is paramount.
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