Like we have mentioned before, СOVID-19 has been tagged as a global health emergency. The events scheduled to be hosted in China may have been cancelled or postponed, there are certain events that are happening in other Asian countries such as Singapore, Vietnam, India, Malaysia etc. This means that the responsibilities of an event planner are bound to increase manifold. Each event organiser must be completely aware about the safety measures and preparedness that the hotels and venues have put in place to host the event.
Not just the hotel or venue management, the organizers must also initiate a conversation with the event partners, the people who have been sponsoring the event, the suppliers, logistics personnel to understand everything they know about СOVID-19, the potential challenges they face the safety measures they have been taking up or should take to fulfil their job in the safest possible way.
Event organizers can set up alternate teams of employees, for instance Team A and Team B. They should be asked to work at different work schedules or alternate weeks so that both the teams are physically segregated and the risk of infection between the teams can be minimized.
Below, we have collated a few pointers that every event organizer should bear in mind while organizing their event in the current scenario.
1. Build personal hygiene awareness at your event
The Coronavirus outbreak has been affecting hundreds and thousands of people across countries other than China including Japan, Thailand, South Korea, India, USA and many more. With more and more people getting affected by the virus and proofs about how it can be transmitted from human to human, the World Health Organisation has urged people to remain vigilant and adopt personal hygiene practices.
So being an event planner, you will have to create awareness about the need to build personal hygiene among attendees present at your event. You must advise people to –
- Avoid coming to enclose contact with the people who are unwell for have been showing symptoms of illness
- Observe good personal hygiene by practising frequent hand washing with soap and water before eating, after having their meal, after using the toilet, after they have coughed or sneezed how to get rid of any respiratory secretions that may be present on their hands.
- Avoid consuming raw, undercooked meats and cold cuts as they can be a mode of infection transmission if they have not been cooked properly.
- Cover their mouth with tissue paper while they are sneezing or coughing and they must dispose of the soiled paper napkin in the trash bin immediately. In case an attendee is not feeling well, they must seek medical attention promptly.
- Not visit outdoor markets and try to avoid direct contact with wild animals and farm animals regardless of the fact whether they are living or dead.
As a gesture of kindness, spread awareness about the need to maintain personal hygiene. Download our poster, print it and share it with as many people as you can!
2. Communicate the first signs of infection.
The staff should be trained enough to communicate the first signs of infection among the attendees. They must be able to monitor the overall development of the virus outbreak, be updated with the latest information available about a virus. The staff should be able to send out clear instructions to the attendees and employees when the measures need to be activated. Both the staff and the attendees should be educated about preventive measures and infection control measures. In case, the staff sights some attendee showing symptoms of COVID-19, they must be able to provide the first aid to them. The staff must be well aware of the different kinds of thermometers such as oral and ear thermometer, the best possible way to use first aid medical equipment and later collate all the contact information of the particular attendees including home address, the telephone number, mobile phone number etc.
There must be at least one person who should be made the person of contact in case an attendee or a staff member at the event shows signs of virus. The contact details of the concerned person should be flashed widely through all the communication channels (both leading up to and during the event). Remember that the event staff who have travelled to the affected countries have been quarantined for enough days as advised by the leading health organisations. Make sure to check the health of event staff by phone or email whenever he or she is absent from work. Apart from this, an employee must be appointed to keep the quarantine employees well aware of the events happening in the office.
This may be a general point but, the event employees must ensure that the event has adequate supplies of tissue papers and hand towels, disinfectants and masks so that anybody who has been coughing and sneezing can take preventive measures.
3. Enhanced measures to minimise the risk
While all the measures can be taken at the event as well, we say why wait for such things to happen in the middle of the event? Amplify the measures to minimize the risk right from the beginning. The entire event management staff must be monitored every single day in terms of daily body temperature and the people showing signs of any potential health risks should be advised to stay away from the office, event and rest at home as much as possible.
There should be the provision for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) so that the functional roles can be supported. Special attention must be paid towards setting up cleaning and disinfecting amenities within the premises of the event, and good personal hygiene practices should be reinforced from time to time.
The attendees should be advised against sharing dishes, cups, drinking glasses, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people attending the event and staying in the same hotel or guest house. Even after the attendees have used these items, they must be thoroughly washed with soap and water to make them fit for reuse.
4. Provide medical supplies and/or staff onsite
The onsite staff should be well equipped with an adequate supply of appropriate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and medical equipment such as thermometers, disposable gloves, surgical masks, N-95 masks, and disinfectants. The event management staff must be given proper training so that they are familiar with the ways in which these medical supplies are to be used at the time of need.
If an attendee tests positive on COVID-19, he or she must be isolated immediately. The premises of the event venue, hotel where the attendee was staying must be cleaned and disinfected because of the potential exposure to novel coronavirus. The COVID-19 has the ability to cause greater and more powerful consequences than any other common sicknesses. He owners and operators must refer to the guidelines given out by health organizations such as WHO and others.
Having a few personals to help isolate any person showing symptoms of COVID-19 including coughing, a problem in breathing, pain in the chest, etc, present at the event would prove to be an excellent decision.
5. Contact tracing
Desperate times call for desperate measures and one can not deny this, especially in the kind of grave situation the world is currently facing. Collecting the advanced data related to every guest, who is going to be present at the event, at each stage of their journey is too important. There must be a provision for travel declaration for the staff, for the event partner and the part-time workers who might have travelled and returned from China after the 14th January 2020.
Now the question arises: what good will any of this do? This will give you an assurance about the people you have been working with did not visit the country of COVID-19 origin and do not suffer from the novel сoronavirus. They can, however, catch the infection from elsewhere but you would be on the safe side by ruling out such possibilities. If you do have someone working in your team or an attendee who shows signs of COVID-19, you should isolate them as soon as possible and provide your employee with essential compliance to leave of absence.
6. Develop an isolation plan
Combating serious illnesses like these is not possible for a single person. It takes an entire team dedicated to ensuring that everything goes well and in this case, an event planner must talk it out with the venue management. Developing an isolation plan is a crucial step while trying to pull off a successful event in times of distress when not many people will want to travel across borders and attend the event.
A proper plan must be in place to monitor the suspected cases. The entry and exit route plans should be rolled out to be able to segregate the people who appear to be showing symptoms from the people who are fine. The security guards along with the other staff members of the venue would be the right people to identify and escort any one who may not be in the best of their health. Needless to say that there has to be a separate room or any other facility to keep such patients waiting for further help.
7. Have in place a crisis communication plan
What happens after a staff member or a security guard has identified a potential suspect? What are the supposed and expected to do? Things can go haywire if the set of instructions has not been passed on to everyone. A crisis communication plan must be in place so that everyone knows what exactly is to be done next.
Each staff member should be well equipped to pass on the information to other staff members and contact the person handling the situation. Let us assume that an attendee was seen coughing when he or she entered the venue — the staff handed them a few tissue papers to cover their mouth while doing so. But after some time, they started complaining of chest pain. What is the plan of action now? Does the staff know what is to be done, who is to be informed? It is in such situations that the need for a communication plan is realized.
8. Stay informed with the latest updates
COVID-19 has been spreading and the fear among people is real. As an event organizer, it is extremely important for you to stay informed with the latest updates of any developments, any better precautions that people can take to save themselves, whether any new guidelines have been issued by the leading health organizations, which other countries have imposed a temporary travel ban if there have been any breakthroughs in the world of medicine – any cure or perhaps a dose of vaccinations. Known to cause mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, COVID-19 has been tagged as one of the biggest illnesses of this decade.
Being on top of all the updates will help you run your event smoothly, minimize the potential health risk and gain the trust of attendees. How? Once they experience all the efforts you are putting in to curtail the risk of COVID-19, they will feel more confident in attending events being set up by you and will be looking forward to frequenting the events you organize.
9. Create an incident management program
Much like what we stated above, nobody can predict what may go wrong at any given point in time and there are various ways in which all the preparedness can go in vain if things are not implemented well.
This is exactly why you need an incident management plan in place. Also referred to as an incident response plan or emergency management plan, it is an outline which helps a team to tackle an unplanned event (in this case, a potential COVID-19 patient) and return back to the normal working as soon as possible.
To save the day, an event planner along with the event owners, venue management, partners, suppliers and sponsors must develop plans to deal with a suspected COVID-19 case beforehand. With an incident management plan ready to be implemented, the entire team can be vigilant, fulfil the needful action without much hassle or letting it cause any damage or impact on the event.
10. Have a list of nearest hospitals ready
Now, not every hospital can help out a person showing signs of COVID-19. Most of the hospitals can simply provide first aid and that is not enough for someone who might actually be a COVID-19 patient. If the condition starts getting worse, there is little that the event and venue management preparedness or a regular hospital will be able to do.
The event planner and the entire staff must have a list of nearest hospitals dealing with COVID-19 cases and patients ready at all times so that they can rush an attendee and get him or her admitted as soon as possible.
Any delay in admitting the potential suspect to hospital can do harm to the people he or she has been surrounded with. Remember that COVID-19 is an airborne disease and can easily transmit from one person to another, so it is advised to act fast.
11. Train your onsite team
Forming the backbone of everything that is bound to unfold at an event, the onsite team is everything in the face of any unprecedented occurrence. It is highly suggested that special attention should be paid towards training the onsite team ahead of the event. Be it someone coughing, complaining of heaviness in chest or whether someone complains of high fever — everything depends on how well the team knows their job and the ways in which they can smoothly comfort another person.
From making sure to teach them the basic first aid for anyone facing health issues to training them what to do if someone seems infected and leading them to the nearest hospital as soon as possible, the onsite event management team should know it all!
12. Check what practices for prevention does your venue applies
Perhaps you have been expecting your event venue to be all geared up with most of the preventive measures but they have not really done much in the wake of COVID-19, or maybe you have been thinking that the venue management is absolutely unprepared but they have already been taking precautionary measures. Whatever it is, make sure that you talk it out with the concerned people. Check out what kind of preventions have they been making use of to treat the potential patients or the people who may actually be suffering from COVID-19. Have they designated a separate place to isolate anyone who may be suffering from symptoms? Do they have first aid kit (s) with medical equipment like thermometers, N-95 masks, disposable gloves, surgical masks, and disinfectants readily available? Are there any other things you could do along with the venue staff to resist the indications of COVID-19? Always double check to be sure of what they have, what needs to be done from your end and the ways in which you can collaborate to make things better for the better good!