SAFETY PLANNING FOR AN EVENT DURING THE PANDEMIC

The global pandemic is challenging our ability to live in a constantly changing environment – personally, and professionally. When lockdown hit, we lost over 80% of our work for the year – overnight. It has been a tough year to say the least.

After a few days of wallowing in how uncertain the year looked, having a pity-party of the circumstances and going in circles about how “unfair” this pandemic was to our portfolio; we decided to step up, identify a niche that that market would be void of – and work hard to fulfill that.

As an independent contractor, showing mental flexibility and adapting to the changes that were so beyond our control is probably going to be our contributor to (hopefully!) surviving this pandemic until the event industry makes its comeback.

Usually we plan the operations for large-scale events, such as city festivals, international livestock shows and other exhibit events. The scale of events we are typically involved in are completely shut down right now, with no forecasted recovery.

So, how did we help with safety planning for a Tour event in three provinces during the pandemic?

Our business services pivot includes assisting with safety planning – for events, businesses, and venues.

We were approached by a client in Manitoba with a big vision of hosting nine events, across three provinces, over about eight weeks – during the pandemic.

For those who are not familiar, in Canada our healthcare is handled at a provincial level meaning each of these three provinces had their own set of guidelines that were constantly changing. These guidelines were not mirrored and over the month of planning they often changed.  

It sounded a little crazy, even for us.

One word came to our mind and we wanted in. Trailblazer.

Nine events throughout Manitoba, Alberta & Saskatchewan during the summer of ’20. The year of cancelled, and often prohibited, events.

Let’s give it a whirl!

We worked closely with our client, Thunderstruck Ag, to ensure we were following the capacity guidelines for gatherings at each stop – which was the main component that was everchanging as the pandemic evolved.

How we handled the risk of transmission remained relatively the same across our entire Tour. Here are some of the measures we took to ensure the safety of each community we visited:

  • Physical Distancing. The first line of defence in reducing the risk of transmission, keep your distance! The team measured everything; nothing was left to guess-work. Tables, booths – the entire layout, was measured and set up accordingly to allow all exhibitors, staff, and guests the space they would need for physical distancing.
  • Signage. Educating your guests on the risk associated with attending, as well as the measures your team has taken to make it a safe environment is a key component in all public health guidelines that have been issued.
  • Contact Tracing. Attendee information was gathered and retained for the two-week period in case of any exposures in which public health authorities would need investigate.
  • Personal Protective Equipment. Masks were not mandatory at that time in really any area. We still felt that it was important to ensure our guests felt safe and to do so, we decided to provide masks and gloves at the entry of our site and were available for guests to wear if they wanted.
  • Hand Hygiene. At the entry /exit and throughout the site – we had no-touch hand sanitizer stations available for all guests to use.
  • Symptom Screening. We had attendees do a self-check to ensure they were not experiencing any symptoms prior to entering our site. The same went for all staff and contractors. We were always on high alert to screen all site visitors for symptoms.
  • Cleaning & Disinfecting. Prior to, during and after the event our team made every effort to ensure all high-touch surfaces were sanitized. We had time allocated to ensure this happened for each show, it was in the forethought of all event organizers on-site.
  • Pre-packaged food. All our caterers either pre-packaged meals or had designated servers to ensure the risk of transmission with a buffet-style set up was not present.
  • Rapid Response & Outbreak Protocol. As any event organizer knows, you must plan for the “what if”, so we did. A formal outbreak protocol was developed and reviewed by all members of the staff that would be onsite to ensure everyone was aware of the step-by-step plan if there was an outbreak at our Tour event.
  • Staff Training. All event staff that were involved in the planning and on-site for the shows, were trained in all our mitigation techniques and aware of the safety standards. Putting together all the plans is great, but ensuring the team is confident to execute and manage the risks on site is vital.

Additional measures included marketing messaging prior to the event, liability waivers, covid safety plans for communities to review and so much more.

We did it! We assisted with the safety planning of a three-province, nine-event travelling Tour during a global pandemic!

For a “tough year”, that is a pretty cool victory really.

Be sure to follow our social media platforms to follow our trailblazing efforts.  

Looking to start planning an event during the pandemic?

Gov of Canada – Risk Mitigation Tools for Gatherings

CDC – Event Planning during COVID

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