Is your organization ready to tip-toe back into hosting events in a socially-distanced world? Though many questions remain about the transmission of COVID-19, it is possible to execute a well-thought out event that reduces potential transmission. While large-scale events likely remain indefinitely on the shelf for many organizaitons, smaller gatherings are possible when enough planning is given to adjust to our "new normal". How? With an abundance of caution. By adhering to health department and federal guidelines, organizations can be cautiously optimistic and plan a path forward to continue connecting, networking, and reestablishing relationships with employees, clients, and supporters.
Over the last several weeks, the Erie Regional Chamber began hosting small-scale networking and signature events so that businesses may continue connecting, collaborating, and learning from each other during these difficult times. When your organization is ready, here are ten tips to consider for your first post-pandemic event.
- Set Up Sanitizing Stations: Place disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer bottles throughout the event so that attendees can wipe down their space as desired. Make sure stations are set up near high traffic areas (think food, bar, and check-in desk) and place a trashcan nearby for easy clean up.
- Self-Declaration Form: While checking into the event, each attendee is asked to complete a self-declaration form. It consists of four common questions around travel and general wellness. If an attendee refuses to sign the form or does not pass the questions (for example, they recently traveled to a designated hot spot), then they will be asked to leave the event and will not be permitted to enter. The self-declaration form would be crucial to contract tracing efforts in the event that an attendee was asymptomatic at the time of the event.
- Encourage Social Distancing with Signage and Set Up: For most events, social distancing can be achieved in the overall set up of table, chairs, and event flow. If tables or chairs cannot be moved, place signs to indicate which ones are available for attendees to use. Standing room only? Use the floor! Placing markers six feet apart is an easy frame of reference for attendees to follow.
- Work In Tandem With Catering Company: Choose reputable, licensed caterers who are well versed on COVID-19 rules and regulations. Most caterers are finding creative, safe ways to display, package, portion, and distribute food and beverages during an event. When in doubt, allow the catering staff to fully serve attendees.
- Clean Common Areas: Designate one or two team members to regularly sanitize high-touch areas throughout the evening. and things sanitized. These include such things as pens, clipboards, iPads or payment swipers, restrooms, and table tops.
- Set Expectations Ahead of Event: Create a safety protocol and plan for all events and communicate these expectations during the registration process. Include the information in event descriptions, social media, emails, and invitations.
- Send Reminders: There is no such thing as overcommunicating during unprecedented times. Send reminders the week before and day prior reiterating your safety protocol for the event.
- Mask Up: Empower your team to remind attendees to please wear their mask throughout the course of the evening unless they are eating or drinking. Place signs throughout the event and have extra masks on hand in case an attendee forgets to bring one.
- Limit Registration: While each venue and event will be different, limit the amount of registrations overall. Currently, indoor events are limited to 25 people while outdoor events are limited to 250. You can restrict attendance even further, or offer a hybrid -- virtual or in-person. And don't forget to count your team, event staff, catering, etc. in your final headcount!
- Communicate with the Erie County Health Department: The Erie County Health Department is resource to help navigate through these unprecedented times. Share your safety plan and protocol and be willing to implement suggestions to ensure the health and safety of attendees.