How to create a physical event in the post-COVID world

by Gareth Platt,

24 August 2020

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People attending a corporate physical event

As coronavirus cases finally start to come down, the world is slowly opening its doors again after months of lockdown. Bars, theatres, gyms and sports venues are gradually returning to normality, providing welcome respite for all of us who’ve been trapped indoors.

For the events industry, the gradual relaxation of lockdown is doubly good news. Thousands of blue-chip events, from the 2020 Olympics to Justin Bieber’s world tour, have been cancelled due to COVID-19; the financial cost for the B2B events industry is likely to exceed €100 billion. The sooner we can get back on our feet, the better.

But if you’re planning to organise a physical gathering in the near future, it’s important to ensure you create the best possible event space. The pandemic is still a long way from over, and event venues continue to face a series of restrictions.

In this guide, we’ll offer a series of tips to minimise the safety risks at your event venue and deliver a safe, responsible environment for your attendees. You can also get more tips from our website here.

Get your space right

This might sound obvious, but have you thought about the dimensions of the venue, or venues, you want to book? Have you thought about whether it offers space for attendees to gather in comfort, without breaching social distancing rules?

Your meeting room should have plenty of space, with plenty of entrance/exit points and outdoor space if possible. So a museum, or open-air theatre, might be a strong choice, a private dining hall less so.

It’s also important to think about the layout of your conference venues. When laying out your tables and chairs, try to avoid the traditional theatre-style plan. Instead, lay out your seating in a U-shape, so your guests don’t have to keep moving past one another. And implement a one-way system if you can, as this will ensure your guests criss-crossing one another.

Establish contact tracing

A number of countries across Europe have established formal systems to track the attendance of public venues and limit the spread of coronavirus infections. 

The specific regulations vary from country to country, but if you are planning an event, it is good practice to establish your own contact tracing protocol; if an attendee does subsequently report COVID-19 symptoms, your records may prove invaluable to the health authorities.

You can establish a contact tracing system simply by leaving a guestbook at the entrance to your meeting room and asking all attendees to sign in. But first, be sure to check your country’s data protection laws to find out what information you can and can’t request.

Get the right equipment

It’s essential that you provide masks to all your staff, and place bottles of hand sanitiser at stations all around your event space.

Beyond these core requirements, we’d recommend renting a thermal scanner, which will at least ensure that no attendee is unwell when they arrive at your event. And you can find a wide range of additional accessories online. At Spacehuntr, we’re particularly excited about smart wearables, which enable attendees to scan information rather than having to touch brochures as they walk around the event venue.

Think about food and drink

Prior to Covid, most conference venues would provide at least some form of refreshment. But in light of the pandemic, food and drink have created a major hazard.

If possible, we’d recommend you refrain from providing any food and drink at your event space. However, if refreshments are essential to your event, we recommend you serve them in sealed, individual units such as cartons or water bottles. Make sure you avoid communal dispensers, such as salad bowls.

Provide clear social distancing instructions

Most people are now clear on the need to wear masks and keep a certain distance, but you shouldn’t assume anyone will automatically follow the correct protocols. So don’t leave any room for doubt or misunderstanding.

We’d recommend you post instructions advising attendees to stand at least two meters apart and avoid all physical contact (such as kissing or shaking hands). Provide clear visual instructions and, if you’re hosting an international event, ensure the instructions are translated into all the relevant languages.

Wherever you think queues might develop, demarcate your six-feet gaps by laying tape across the floor or drawing the lines with chalk. Your attendees will have no excuse to encroach on one another!

 

We hope this guide has been useful to you and we look forward to providing more information in the weeks ahead.

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