Many organizations are back to hosting in-person events and recognize the need of a mitigation plan for COVID-19. This guide will provide you 10 easy steps to reduce COVID-19 risk at your next event and help you take appropriate action based on the level of risk of transmission. Although there is no event that is risk free, we can help you make sure attendees have the information they need to attend and develop a plan to lower the risk.
DEVELOPING A MITIGATION PLAN:
A COVID-19 mitigation plan outlines the steps you will take before, during, and after your event to reduce risk of your staff, volunteers and attendees contacting or spreading the virus. Toast of the Town helps many clients develop and implement their mitigation plans, below are some items to keep in mind as you are developing your plan.
POTENTIAL SAFETY PLANS TO TAKE:
- Adjust event capacity and modify the event floor plan to enforce physical distancing rules, including placing tape on floors in queuing areas at intervals, to provide more space in between attendees.
- If the transmission is high during the time leading up to your event, consider implementing a refund policy for individuals that are unable to attend the event because they display symptoms or providing those attendees with another way of viewing the event such as a livestream component for the program. If you can, also consider hosting the event fully outdoors as a safe alternative.
- Many events are working with medical professionals to check vaccination status, provide onsite COVID-19 Rapid Test, and ask patrons experiencing symptoms (e.g., coughing) to undergo additional screening.
- Communicate to staff and attendees the importance of staying home when sick or if they have tested positive for COVID-19.
- Conduct contact tracing during event check in with a COVID-19 questionnaire in case of transmission at the event to alert attendees of exposure. In accordance with state and local laws and regulations, event planners should notify local health officials, staff, and attendees of any case of COVID-19 while maintaining confidentiality.
- Ensure adequate supplies to support healthy hygiene behaviors. Provide hand sanitizer stations throughout the event and face coverings for all attendees. Promote mask wearing and COVID testing before the event.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces within the venue at least daily or between uses as much as possible. Many events now have disinfectant companies like Alaska Disinfection Services to sanitize the event space prior to the event opening to ensure guest safety.
- Promote vaccination against COVID-19 and consider developing access rules such as a negative COVID PCR test or Vaccination Cards to enter the event.
- Message all attendees before arrival, advising them of your COVID-19 mitigation plan. For example, let attendees know if face coverings and/or vaccination status will be required for entry. Post signage at event entrances indicating your COVID-19 mitigation plan to enter the facility.
- Adjust the food and beverage service to meet the needs of the event. Instead of a buffet consider pre-packaged items or plated meals. Re-imagine passed hors d’oeuvres to be bento boxes for each attendee or pre-packaged small bites.
WORKING WITH YOUR VENUE
Venues must communicate health and safety protocols. Having a cleaning protocol in place is a crucial element for any event venue looking to book group business and prepare for future in-person events. Ask your venue what their cleaning protocol is and work with them on developing your mitigation strategy
When it comes to food and beverage at events, self-service buffets are not recommended. Instead, consider a seated served meal as an alternative option. Another alternative is pre-packed meals already placed at attendees’ seats at the event. Think about how meals will be served at your event: Bento boxes, plated service, and individual packaged items can be playful and safe!
LEVERAGE PANDEMIC ERA TOOLS TO MAKE YOUR EVENT SAFER!
Embrace technology to make safe meetings and events possible! From realistic floorplans the provide accurate distance measures between tables to planning a hybrid event there are many tools to ensure your next gathering is safe!
- Use a mobile app for attendee check in at your next event. Many organizations want to streamline the check in line and allow time for people to network or bid on auction items early, provide a way to attendees to check in on their phones to limit the line time and meet your organization’s goals!
- Prepare a professional event floor plan accommodating social distance. Interactive floor plans are becoming critical tools – something that’s increasingly front and center for future events. This allows you to know how the room will accommodate regulations and still create a good in-person experience.
- Virtual technology and A/V capabilities used to create a hybrid event setting. The safest way to move forward with your event this year is to add in a hybrid element in case of rising cases.
THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNICATION
A must-have for any 2022 event is a strong communication plan! Announce and over communicate the COVID-19 mitigation plan and any event policies with all parties: event attendees, sponsors, vendors, donors, and even high-level executives. Post your plan on your event website and make sure to include it in your pre-event emails.
Remember, we all play a key role in the recovery and want events to continue! If you have any questions or want to learn more about resources, check out Plan Safer Events. Or contact our team at Info@toastofthetownak.com. We look forward to seeing you back at in person events here soon!