Event organisers are no strangers to last-minute changes, cancellations and big conundrums. Like speaker no-shows, poor technology, long registration waiting times – but these are small in comparison to the global buzzkill that is the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced many of us to isolate ourselves, people to live restricted lives. While the World Health Organization (WHO) rolled out some suggestions on how to tackle this pandemic coronavirus, many companies are opting for “digital forums”, while others are straight away cancelling the events. 

Here, we have compiled a list of guidelines for conducting events in the face of the coronavirus.

Commons myths about COVID-19

Until now, we have all heard some facts (and many myths) about the virus through social media which are actually far fetched from reality. Here are some of the common myths regarding coronavirus and what actually the truth is.

  • Myth 1: Coronavirus is always life-threatening. Numerous factors come into play when we talk about the death-ratio of the virus. Elderly people (especially 60+) are more likely to incline towards life-threatening situations. The mortality rate of coronavirus came out to be 3.4%, as estimated by WHO as of March 3rd.
  • Myth 2: Coronavirus cannot be contained. In most of the cases, coronavirus containment has been successful. WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has stated that COVID-19 is likely to spread less than the flu. “If this was an influenza epidemic, we would have expected to see widespread community transmission across the globe by now, and efforts to slow it down or contain it would not be feasible. But containment of COVID-19 is feasible and must remain the top priority for all countries.”
  • Myth 3: Facemasks are mandatory for the prevention of the virus. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend the usage of facemasks daily. Instead, washing your hands and avoiding touching your face is far more beneficial. Only the patients and health care workers are advised to wear masks in order to prevent it from spreading.

8 ways to protect you your attendees from COVID-19

The events industry, like all the others right now, is also affected by the Coronavirus. However, there are certain precautions that you can take to protect your attendees.

1. Have a preparedness plan

Having a plan will allow you to confidently invite the attendees. This gives the sense that you are taking COVID-19 seriously. Some suggestions for preparedness plans are:

  • Coordinate with healthcare centres beforehand.
  • Make necessary arrangements for the isolation of suspected attendees.
  • Place posters/signs all around the venue to educate the attendees regarding the virus.
  • Offer hand wash through sanitisers, especially at the entrance and inside the venue as well.

2. Share updated records

Sharing updated records may also give the impression about your seriousness regarding the virus. Some suggestions for sharing updated records are:

  • Coordinate with healthcare centres for updated records
  • Share the updates on your preparedness plan
  • Provide a date for the update, if any

3. Share event updates with the attendees

Update your attendees regarding the event if you’re considering postponing or cancelling the event. Share your healthcare guidelines for your events, as well as sharing all the relevant information on your website. Some suggestions for sharing updates with attendees are: 

  • Mention the guidelines clearly
  • Share the latest update regarding the event
  • Share the latest updates from healthcare centres

4. Map out the guidelines related to health and safety

Create a set of rules and guidelines for the safety of the attendees, making sure that they are straight-forward with no ambiguity.. Some suggestions for mapping out guidelines are:

  • Using signs or posters to portray healthcare guidelines
  • Consider educating the attendees via email upon their registration
  • Be clear in your message with no ambiguity.

5. Try to create a virus-free environment

Give no reasons for your attendees to complain about the environment. This will not only ensure the safety regarding the suspected infected person but also the safety of other attendees as well. Some suggestions for creating a virus-free environment are:

  • Provide attendees with hand sanitizers.
  • Provide disinfectant to wipe down.
  • Wiping the microphone after every use.
  • Share the health and safety guidelines via email with your attendees.

6. Consider virtualising the event

In the light of pandemic coronavirus, a lot of companies are shifting towards digital means of conducting their business. Similarly, the event industry is no different from this. If conditions come down to this, then opting for a virtual event is more considerable than cancelling the event. Some suggestions regarding virtualising of the event are:

  • Take the attendees and speakers into consideration by announcing the decision on the website.
  • If possible, consider informing the attendees via email regarding the decision.
  • Prepare yourself for managing the event remotely.

7. Consider postponing the event

If conducting the event virtually is out of the question and arranging it physically is impossible, then postponing your event might be a viable decision. Provided that the vendors and the speakers are flexible with it. Some suggestions regarding postponing of the event are:

  • Make sure to communicate with the attendees that this is for their own safety.
  • Update your website regarding the decision, or inform your attendees via email.
  • Confirm the availability of the venue and the speaker before proceeding with this decision.

8. Consider cancelling the event

It may come down to the worst-case scenario, that is to cancel your event. While this may be a hard decision to make after months of hard work, but it might be the best decision in the face of the given situation. Some suggestions regarding the cancellation of the event:

  • Announce the cancellation of the event a week before, to save the attendees from making a trip.
  • Take the attendees and speaker into consideration, update them via email or updating your website.
  • Offer a clear refund policy for the attendees.
  • Contact with the venue and vendor to check the contract and come up with an agreement.
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