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Before launching in-person experiences again, event creators are considering health and safety risks for their event. This is a resource for how to address them.
Before relaunching in-person experiences, event creators will need to thoughtfully consider safety and security risks for their event. Many factors can influence an event’s risk profile, including the location of the venue, the purpose of the event, and the event-goers attending. Today, we want to provide you with resources to consider as you address the threat of COVID-19 and manage the risk of transmission. Following the expertise of health officials and regulators, events will need to adopt new policies and procedures to minimize physical contact and maximize the health and well-being of their attendees. This playbook assumes there are no mandatory prohibitions affecting your event or gathering.
Event creators should assume that during a global pandemic, when there is COVID-19 prevalence in virtually every locale, every event goer and staff member could transmit the virus. Because everyone is a potential transmission risk, taking appropriate safety and risk management measures is crucial, as is communicating staff and attendee requirements and responsibilities during these unprecedented circumstances.
This section will help you identify inherent risks and other factors that may affect your event and understand mitigation options aimed to reduce COVID-19 transmission risk at your event.
Creators have a responsibility for the well-being of their staff and attendees at their events. It’s important to recognize the threat COVID-19 poses and determine the level of risk of transmission at your event.
To make a risk-based decision to host, postpone, or modify a future event, event creators should complete a risk assessment to consider risk factors, safety steps, and residual risk, and update this assessment with new information and guidance regularly as your event approaches. While the risk of transmission can’t be eliminated, only managed, this process helps event creators make informed decisions about risk acceptance for their event.
Risk factors are inherent and specific aspects of your event that may increase transmission risk for attendees. They may include things like the number of people attending, whether those attending are in a high-risk group, location, purpose of the event, indoor vs. outdoor nature of the event, and other event attributes.
Safety steps are industry-and government-recognized options for mitigating the identified risks at your event. These can range from implementing a process or policy to require face coverings and hygiene for event attendees and staff to reducing event capacity.
Residual risk is the risk remaining after you have implemented mitigation steps. Some risks can be managed and reduced; others cannot. For this assessment exercise, consider assigning “High,” “Medium,” “Low,” or “Not Applicable” values for each of the risk factors identified below.
•A High residual risk score means that you determine a risk factor would greatly increase the risk of transmission at your event and there are little to no mitigation measures to reduce its inherent risk to your event.
•A Medium residual risk score means that you determine a risk factor would increase the risk of transmission at your event but that mitigation measures can reduce its inherent risk to your event.
• A Low residual risk score means that you determine the risk factor will not increase, or only incrementally increase, the risk of transmission at your event OR mitigation steps effectively reduce the risk factor into this threshold.
Risk acceptance is the decision to accept residual risks after mitigation steps are in place. Event creators who complete the risk assessment with one or more “High” and/or two or more “Medium” residual risks should consider whether to postpone or delay an event, or materially change its format (for example, pivoting to a virtual event). Even if an event does not meet this criteria, event creators may consider postponing, delaying, or changing their event format, depending on the circumstances.
This section will help you take steps to prevent or manage risks at your event.
Now that you’ve identified what level of risk acceptance you are comfortable with for your event, time to implement the safety steps identified. (Remember, if you completed the risk assessment with one or more “High” and/or two or more “Medium” residual risks or other circumstances warrant, consider whether to postpone or delay an event, or materially change its format. Likewise, review local rules and regulations to determine whether the presence of these risk factors requires you to change your event format.) In this stage, it’s helpful to think about how you will prepare for and respond to risks before, during, and after your event.
•Seek advice from and collaborate with local authorities and public health officials for current COVID-19 restrictions and recommendations.
•Provide resources that detail the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 to help educate potential event-goers and staff on whether they should attend or stay home.
•Require staff and event-goers to stay home if they have any COVID-19 symptoms, including fever, cough, or gastro-intestinal issues. Additionally, require attendees to not attend the event if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or had direct contact with an individual diagnosed with or suspected to have COVID-19 in the past 14 days. Consider implementing permissive refund policies to encourage event goers to comply with these rules.
•Provide access to hand-washing stations with soap and water or hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol if the former is unavailable.
•Provide instructions on proper handwashing at handwashing stations (at least 20 seconds in accordance with CDC/WHO guidelines).
•Create an event-specific medical response plan, designating responsible persons, nearby emergency services, and determining how to isolate and transport staff or attendees experiencing a medical emergency. Develop plans for quickly and safely evacuating an event.
•Determine event capacity based on the geometry and physical characteristics of your venue. This should include factors like ventilation, presence of UV or HEPA air filters in the building or venue, and physical distance/density of attendees.
•Modify attendee/staff density to enforce all safety protocols, including six-feet (two-meters) physical distancing requirements in all venue spaces where attendees congregate — including restrooms, queuing areas, and during ingress and egress procedures. This may include temporary modifications to your space (e.g., closing adjacent sink stations, metering bathroom usage, queuing to enter and exit the venue, and modifying seating and standing arrangements).
•Designate one or more staff member to enforce physical distancing and face covering requirements throughout the event.
•Require all attendees and staff to wear CDC/WHO recommended face coverings during the event.
•Assign staff to cleaning tasks performed before, during, and after the event. Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc. before the event using CDC and/or WHO cleaning and disinfecting guidelines.
•For events with multiple shifts, showtimes, or events, clean and disinfect common spaces between each group of people. Be sure to provide enough time between groups to allow for cleaning and disinfection of commonly touched surfaces.
•Clean surfaces with soap and water before using an approved household disinfectant. Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, toilets, faucets, sinks, or items distributed to attendees before the event using CDC and/or WHO cleaning and disinfecting guidelines.
•Provide event-goers with resources that detail the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 to help educate potential event-goers on whether they should attend or stay home.
•Require staff and event-goers to stay home if they have experienced COVID-19 symptoms in the past 14 day, have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14-days, or have had contact with a known or suspected COVID-19 case.
•Consider flexible refund policies and communicate these policies to attendees.
•Create a plan to respond to medical or other predictable natural and man-made threats and hazards (e.g., security incident, fire, weather emergency).
•Identify the closest hospital or health center should someone become ill.
•Staff or supply a first-aid station for minor injuries or sick attendees.
•Plan for a location to isolate event-goers and/or staff who demonstrate signs or symptoms of COVID-19.
•Plan to minimize person-to-person contact for event organizers and staff during the planning process.
•Maintain updated contact information for staff and venue operators to communicate information about COVID-19 updates.
•Create signage outlining face coverings and/or other personal protective equipment rules, physical distancing requirements, and other COVID-19 specific procedures; ensure any messaging surrounding COVID-19 recognizes and addresses cultural, language, and/or disability barriers.
•Establish video/audio participation options for sick and/or high-risk individuals.
•Create a plan for contacting event-goers after the event, should it become necessary to notify them of exposure to COVID-19.
•Use a contactless method for exchanging or verifying items like tickets or identification, and for accepting payments at the event.
•Provide access to hand-washing stations with soap and water or hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol if the former is unavailable. Require attendees to use hand sanitizer or wash hands upon entry and exit of your venue, the exit of bathrooms, after disposing of waste, and after consuming food.
•Provide instructions on proper handwashing at handwashing stations (at least 20 seconds in accordance with CDC/WHO guidance).
•Remind event-goers not to touch their eyes, nose, or mouth.
•Event-goers should cover their nose and mouth with an approved face cover 3 when around others. Unless stated otherwise by local regulations, exceptions are for children under two, persons with breathing issues, or someone who is unconscious/incapacitated or unable to remove their face cover independently.
•Per physical distancing guidelines, event-goers should stay at least six feet (two meters) from one another, even if they are wearing face coverings.
•Provide culturally appropriate messages and materials to prohibit certain actions like handshakes or high-fives that are common at many events but could facilitate the spread of COVID-19.
•When not wearing a recommended face cover, event-goers should cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow, not touch their face, and should then wash their hands.
•To the extent possible, screen event-goers for COVID-19 symptoms. Require individuals with visible COVID-19 symptoms, such as a cough, to leave the event immediately, review reporting requirements, and re-assess risk of continuing the event.
•If serving food, consider pre-packaged single-serve options. Follow WHO and/or the U.S Food & Drug Administration (depending on your event’s location) recommendations for COVID-19 food safety. Consider pre-packaged and pre-distributed options.
•If an event-goer displays symptoms, separate the event-goer from others until they can go home, contact local health officials, communicate potential exposure to staff and event-goers, and clean and disinfect the event space.
•Designate and denote a location to isolate event-goers and/or staff who demonstrate signs or symptoms of COVID-19 — and staff member who will respond to ill attendee concerns.
•If an event-goer displayed symptoms at the event, communicate potential exposure to the venue owner (if applicable), public health officials, staff, and event-goers, and clean and disinfect the event space.
•Clean surfaces with soap and water before using an approved household disinfectant. Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc. after the event using WHO and/or the CDC and/or WHO cleaning and disinfecting guidelines.
•Clean and disinfect surfaces and spaces between events, including between events that may have multiple shifts, acts, or showings.
This section will help you communicate your safety policies and procedures to your staff and attendees.
Put safety first by writing it directly into your policies and procedures. These policies should be communicated with your attendees and your event staff. They can be shared online on your website and ticket page, in your confirmation email to ticket-buyers, at the door, inside of your event through signage and announcements, and with your staff in a pre-event briefing.
Event-goers and staff play a critical role in the safety of your event during a global pandemic. Communicating basic safety requirements and seeking positive affirmation of these requirements — especially around physical distancing and wearing face coverings — are crucial to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at your event.
ake your attendees on the journey with you. In addition to your policies and procedures, consider sharing your decision-making process, what factors were considered, and with whom you consulted in making your decision. As no event is risk-free during a pandemic, consider highlighting the existing uncertainties, what measures are being taken to reduce those risks, and your corresponding refund policy. This is an opportunity to empathetically show ticket-buyers you have given these issues have consideration and care. It also provides attendees the opportunity to decide to accept those risks, take additional precautions when attending, or decide not to attend.
Attendees have a shared responsibility in event safety. Communication should include what actions attendees must take to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 (such as bringing their own face coverings), what symptoms will not be tolerated at the event (fever, tiredness, dry cough), and special consideration if they are a high-risk individual (eg, people > 65 years of age, people with underlying health conditions). Manage expectations and ask for them to be patient and flexible due to the evolving nature of this crisis. Require that attendees self-certify that they do not have symptoms, have not been diagnosed with or had direct contact with a known or suspected COVID-19 case in the past 14 days, and will comply with the event’s safety policies and procedures including wearing face coverings, physical distancing, and other determined requirements. Violation of policies will cause removal from the event.
Share this information before someone purchases a ticket (on your website and/or ticket listing page), after they have purchased a ticket (confirmation email), leading to the event (pre-event email and/or social media) to account for any updates or changes, and communications at the event to remind attendees to comply (signage and/or through an announcement at the event). Once you’ve communicated your safety precautions, it’s important to listen for feedback and concerns (before, during, and after your event), and be responsive.
Identify and address potential language, cultural, and disability barriers associated with communicating COVID-19 information to event staff and participants. Information you share should be easily understood by everyone attending the event. Use both signs and audio announcements to communicate event rules.
This section will help you use your safety checklist to prepare and respond to risks should they occur.
Now that you’ve thought through some of the potential risks, considered implementing risk-mitigating steps, and communicated your corresponding policies and procedures, it’s time to put that planning into action. Use this as a day-of guide to capturing what safety and security measures are in place at your event, and how to respond. Share and run through this with your staff before the event and ensure that they are clear on their roles and responsibilities.