By Meredith Parker
Safety starts on your first day of event planning and is the last item to cross of your to-do list after an event concludes. This has never been more true than during the past year, when many cities and jurisdictions implemented new safety protocols that impact the world of event production. At Event 360, we’ve spent two years establishing best practices and scalable safety plans for our non-profit events. We call this new service Safety+.
In 2021, the entire event landscape pivoted around COVID-19 mitigation planning and the requirements changed depending upon what market we were in. Here are some examples from real events we produced in 2021:
- In one local jurisdiction, all participants and volunteers were required to sign a waiver and release acknowledging that should they be directly exposed to or have symptoms of COVID-19 within 14 days of the event, they’d refrain from participation in the event.
- In many cases, prior to arriving at our event site, all participants and volunteers were asked to self-certify that they did not have symptoms of COVD-19, had not been diagnosed with or had unmitigated direct contact with a known or suspected COVID-19 case in the past 14 days, and would comply with the event’s safety policies and procedures.
- In addition, all event staff were required to attend a pre-event training session outlining COVID-19 mitigation measures to be followed during the event as well as receive COVID testing before and during the event itself.
- Several jurisdictions asked for COVID-19 addendums to their standard permit applications this past year. One such addendum required “COVID-19 signage be placed at each site to inform all participants that they should avoid entering if they had a cough or fever; wear facial coverings, maintain a minimum 6’ distance from one another; and not shake hands or engage in any unnecessary physical contact.” The addendums also required that portable toilets and highly trafficked areas be disinfected frequently, and that handwashing or hand-sanitizing stations be provided.
- Finally, jurisdictions required our events to follow CDC-defined protocols and requested that we have an on-site COVID Compliance Officer to ensure planned mitigation measures were in place and followed and be responsible for any contact tracing due to positive test results.
In addition to the examples above that we encountered at some level in most event markets last year, some events went even further to keep participants safe on-site. One example of this is the Susan G. Komen San Diego 3-Day, where we created eight-person social distancing pods for both our Opening and Closing Ceremony locations. During that event, all participants were required to wear a face covering, unless 6’ social distancing was possible, while at all event sites, while walking, or while in event vehicles. We’ve seen many cities and police departments now request rolling starts — releasing participants in groups of 25 or less to combat COVID-19 and to minimize congestion on sidewalks and at busy intersections.
With 2022 just beginning to unfold, it appears that COVID-19 will need to be part of our event planning to-do list again this year. Sharpen your pencils, stay abreast of the CDC’s latest directives, and keep in touch with your city and jurisdictional contacts as to additional protocols needed to keep events safe for all participants. Need help with your safety planning? Let us know!
Meredith Parker has been with Event 360 for over a decade and is the Event Production Manager for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. She enjoys traveling with her husband, spending time with their six nieces and nephews and participating in local sprint triathlons.