As more and more people are completing their COVID vaccinations and getting their boosters, in-person events are tentatively coming back into consideration. Now, we don’t think virtual events are going away soon—in fact, we think that they will be a permanent way of reaching the highest number of people. But still, in this pandemic age, what kinds of considerations do program managers need to cover as they begin in-person events once again? We’ve got some ideas.
COVID Safety for In-Person & Hybrid Events
Aside from the obvious masks, social distancing, and adequate cleaning, what do you need to be considering as you plan to host a live or hybrid (live and virtual options) event?
- Communicate expectations clearly and early: Don’t spring temperature checks on attendees at the door; let them know ahead of time what your safety protocols will be and stick to them. Have a plan in place for any attendees opting to not follow the rules.
- Check your venue: Is your preferred venue one that is committed to adhering to current local, state, and federal guidelines? Is it large enough to host your event while allowing for social distancing?
- Minimize large crowds of people milling about: Typically, these include those times when people are registering or checking in. Consider a virtual registration to streamline the process, and plan for a larger-than-usual space for your check-in area. Staggering check-in times by participant is another good idea—just be sure to organize and communicate it well ahead of time (alphabetical by last name is one option).
- Consider traffic flow: Work with the venue to establish one-way foot traffic patterns to ensure social distancing. Have clear signage to remind people where to walk and let them know ahead of time that you’ll be utilizing slightly unusual routes.
- Plan for an overflow area: If a headlining speaker is expected to draw a larger crowd, manage the seating within the room itself, and plan for an overflow area either outside or in another room to watch a livestream.
- Plan food carefully: Buffets are a no-go. Instead, opt for grab-and-go prepackaged meals, food trucks, and socially distanced sit-down eating areas.
We’re interested to know—what other protocols has your venue or organization put into place to ensure safety these days? Please leave a comment!