The safety and security of our attendees and team members are always priority #1 when planning an event. Never has it been more important to create a plan to keep everyone not only safe but also healthy. One of the biggest challenges of planning an event during a pandemic has been aligning on health protocols. There are many things to consider, discuss with stakeholders, and communicate to attendees. Some things to think about are below.
- What local restrictions are in place when booking the event and Is additional space required for physical distancing?
- Are there outdoor spaces available?
- Are you going to require COVID vaccinations and negative COVID tests?
- How will you collect proof of vaccinations?
- What and how will you communicate these requirements to attendees?
- Will you schedule a virtual option for those unable to attend?
- Planning for International attendees and requirements for testing needed to travel
As we planned for our December conference, we decided to align with our corporate office and require vaccinations for all attendees. They uploaded their information to a secure intranet site in advance of registration confirmation. Due to the event taking place the week before Christmas, we have heard concern that our attendees wanted to have a COVID test before they went home to be with family for the holidays. We will be issuing a COVID home test to each person when they arrive and pick up their badge. In addition, we have a thorough COVID plan. A few highlights of the plan include:
- If any attendees become symptomatic, we are asking them to contact the planning team.
- The planning team will assist them with getting tested.
- If positive, the planning team will enact a contact tracing plan which includes gathering names of others they have come in contact with, and notify them.
- Attendees who tested positive will be asked to quarantine in their room. We will provide room service food and beverage and N95 masks for them.
- All conference attendees will be notified that someone has tested positive for their awareness.
Be prepared for a LOT of questions around this topic from attendees. As things continue to change, also be prepared to be flexible, and pack your patience as this is a new world and as a team you’ll need to do what is best for your attendees to keep them safe and make them feel comfortable.
- Stay aware and informed about local protocols.
- Align with your stakeholders, legal and human resources on Vaccination requirements for team members, vendors and attendees.
- Communicate with the venue about safety protocols early and often.
- Create a comprehensive communication plan to make sure everyone is fully informed on protocols and plans.
- Have COVID home tests available for attendees that may have symptoms, or for assurance that they are negative before heading home.
- Try to book venues with outdoor options for meal functions.
- Have a contingency plan for:
- Anyone who becomes symptomatic, or who tests positive
- Speakers who may become ill and are unable to attend
- Local ordinances that may change and impact your events (spacing, masks, travel, and attendance.)