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Tips to Plan and Conduct Events Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID–19 outbreak is showing little sign of slowing down across the world, Weddingz.in reviews its impact in the events and hospitality space. Our subject matter experts have put together a guide for event planning and execution in this time of uncertainty.

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All questions and answers and planning tips are shared below.

What is COVID-19?

WHO describes Coronaviruses as a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans.  They are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.

Current information suggests that the COVID-19 virus is more difficult to contain and therefore proving particularly difficult to manage.

COVID-19 spreads mainly by droplets produced as a result of coughing or sneezing of a COVID-19 infected person. This can happen in two ways:

1.Direct close contact: one can get the infection by being in close contact with COVID-19 patients (within one metre of the infected person)
2. Indirect contact: the droplets survive on surfaces and clothes for many days. Therefore, touching any such infected surface or cloth and then touching one’s mouth, nose or eyes can transmit the disease.
3. Because of the way COVID-19 is spread, the events industry has needed to become hyper-aware due to the concentration of people in enclosed spaces.

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Keeping all this in mind what all factors should the event organizers consider in addition to the scale or size of the event?

The following factors should be taken into consideration:

1. Crowd density

2. Event is being held indoor(banquet) or outdoor(lawn)

3. How do people move around the event

4.How the people will interact with each other and their surroundings

5. Where the staff and attendees are travelling from (high or low impacted area)Whether there are checks on their movements or what their proximity to confirmed cases of COVID-19 has been

6. Individual event organisers and planners should look to identify the key risks associated with their events and implement sensible control measures accordingly.

How to plan and conduct events in this difficult time of pandemic(COVID-19)

Which type of events requires more preparations and precautions?

This will majorly depend on the crowd density of the particular event.
Smaller party areas will have higher crowd density and compared to larger party areas. Hence either the guest lists will need to be shortened or larger party areas need to be booked.
Lawns and open areas will be a better choice with more ventilation and less touch of surfaces for infection to spread.
Toilets, entrance and exits will have to be dealt with extra care and cleaning.

What are the most important tips for the event planners during the containment phase of this viral disease?

1. Some measures that can be taken before and after the event by the event stakeholders:

2. Event organisers could contact staff to find out if anyone had travelled from affected areas as listed officially by the government

3. People who have been in close and sustained contact with confirmed COVID-19 cases should also be excluded from the event.

4. Background checks of the attendees should be conducted by the organized communicating via social media or emails that people falling in the infected category should not be allowed to attend the event.

Implementations at the Events

1. Increasing awareness of good personal hygiene and effective hand-washing among staff and attendees. This could be via media messaging, signage, staff awareness and communicating this message to attendees on arrival.

2. Make hand-washing more accessible. Warm running water, soap and hand dryers should be readily available.

3. Providing antibacterial sanitizers and foams around the event spaces.

4. Increasing the cleaning regime to include contact surfaces within the event spaces.

Consider using the following four-point plan:

VMs and GMs should be the POCs to monitor government guidance on COVID-19.

Design event spaces and timings to reduce crowd densities, how to minimize congestions, peak time public transport usage

Consider how COVID-19 issues are addressed in your existing communications plan.

Have a clear plan on dealing with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases at the event – various ideas include creating a self-isolation space; contacting the authorities; venue cleansing; disposal of waste; and protection of first responders. Make sure relevant information is included in all staff briefings.

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What is the general advice we want to give to venue partners and their team?

 We’re advising our partners to plan for a range of possible scenarios, take reasonable steps to increase hygiene standards and keep up to date with the latest information.

A lot of rumours are being spread nowadays hence, fake news detection and fact-checking are important. Having a single person nominated (like GM or the VM) to monitor the approach based on the latest knowledge can make communicating with the rest of the team easier and helps ensure that the response is considered and consistent.

 Once you have this in place you can then consider what communications you are having with your team and your audience, pre-event, during the event and post-event. As with all event messaging make sure it is concise, accurate and approved by any relevant stakeholders.

Why are large amounts of events being cancelled?

People are uncertain and worried due to the widespread COVID-19 and inevitable and tragic loss of human life. Practical challenges may be presented with a large number of people off work due to self-isolation and social distancing measures which will ultimately affect productivity and growth. We would suggest that all our stakeholders convince their customers and postpone/reschedule the events to a future date instead of cancelling them.
The Government of India is taking all necessary steps to ensure that we are prepared to face the challenge and threat posed by COVID-19. Currently, we are moving between containing and delay, as described by ICMR. The focus is to flatten the curve of cases so we don’t have lots of people unwell at the same time.

Clearly if the person-to-person transmission increases, the government will need to move their advice and plans, and we could see many more events getting postponed. But likewise, as the experts learn more about COVID-19 the research can inform advice and decisions.

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