Checklists are a staple in the planner playbook, and now, more than ever, can help ensure safe events as well reassure attendees. Here’s a rundown of items to add to your planning, based on CDC guidelines for events and other expert input.
✔️ Contract and Pre-event Communication
Before the event, make certain your venue contract clearly specifies sanitation and safety responsibilities and has trained its staff on COVID-19 protocols. (For more on contracts, see here.) Communicate venue safety and hygiene measures to attendees and notify them of extra measures being taken by you. Stipulate that access will be denied to anyone with an elevated temperature reading. State clearly that no hugs, handshakes or fist bumps will be permitted—and suggest friendly alternatives, such as elbow bumps and prayerful hands (the namaste greeting).
More than ever before, consider how attendees are getting to your event and where they are coming from. Quarantines in other states (and, when international borders reopen, other countries) may impact who can attend. Encourage attendees to drive alone in their own vehicles and avoid public transportation, if feasible. Configure parking areas to facilitate social distancing if you can, and use signage and attendants at entry points where attendees may congregate.
✔️ Face Masks
Requiring attendees to wear face coverings is recommended by CDC, and even mandatory in some states. Tell attendees in advance face coverings will be required and offer them at the door for anyone who forgets theirs. Bonus: Treat face masks as a branding opportunity.
✔️ Temperature Taking
The perception of safety is as important to attendees as the reality, which is why temperature-taking of staff and guests at entry points is still important. Set up temperature-taking areas (consider thermal imaging) and have a protocol if someone’s temperature is too high that includes further testing and a plan to isolate and contact trace.
✔️ Hand Sanitizing
The venue should offer numerous, conveniently located handwashing and sanitizing stations. Signage should remind people to sanitize frequently, but also not to congregate too closely at these stations.
Limit the number of people allowed into a restroom at one time (depending on its size and configuration). Restroom lines should be physically distanced with six-foot floor markers. Monitor that venue staff sanitizes restrooms regularly, especially high-touch surfaces, and make certain plenty of soap and hand sanitizer is available. Communicate restroom policies before each day’s sessions; post signage to reinforce them.
Limit the number of people in an elevator to allow for safe distancing and schedule enough time—preferably staggered—to get everyone where they need to be. Additional staff may be required to help with safe transitions.
Pre-packaged entrees, salads and sides will be a reassuring way to signal safety and hygiene when in-person events resume, and, of course, physical distancing in the dining room will have to be monitored. Consider staggering mealtimes to avoid long lines. Signage can highlight added hygiene and other precautions being taken behind the scenes, in the kitchen and food-staging areas. Servers should wear masks and gloves. (For more, see here.)
✔️ Room Setups
For safe distancing, place tables and chairs six feet apart and provide clear signage and instruction about movement around the room. Be mindful of keeping a safe distance between seating areas and room exits. (A separate entrance and exit can help avoid people passing by too closely.) Sneeze guards or other physical barriers should be used when appropriate. Despite these measures, strive to design an aesthetically pleasing event. (For more, see here.)