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How to Create Safe Meetings & Events in the Wake of COVID-19

3 June, 2020
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According to news reports, researchers are making progress on better tests and treatments for COVID-19, and even a vaccine to prevent the disease. While that’s encouraging, it’s still possible (some might say “likely”) that the pandemic will forever change the way groups gather and interact.

Even if we’re able to get back to something like the “old normal,” it’s important that scheduling departments are prepared to respond to similar situations in the future. So, now is the time to look at your meeting rooms and the event-related services you provide from a fresh perspective—one that recognizes that you and your team play a vital, if unexpected, role in helping prevent the spread of disease.

7 Steps You Should Take to Ensure Your Visitors and Staff Are Safe as Facilities Reopen

As states and municipalities start to reopen, they’re providing guidance on how to promote or enforce social distancing. Obviously, it’s important that you understand and follow the restrictions that affect your operations. However, generally speaking, there are seven steps you can take to ensure that your rooms are safe to use and that you can provide services in a way that minimizes the risk of disease transmission.

  1. Reduce capacity as directed and revise floor plans. In most cases, businesses that are being allowed to reopen have to do so—at least initially—with reduced capacities. If you are being told that, for example, in-person event capacities must be reduced by 50%, you should both revise your room layouts to meet that guideline and, if possible, remove excess tables and chairs to eliminate the temptation for groups to squeeze in “just a few more” people.  
  2. Change traffic patterns to keep attendees apart. If there are multiple access points to your facilities and/or the rooms within them, you should designate doors for entry and exit. You should also use signage, floor markings, and other visual cues to help people understand how they are expected to move into and out of your spaces.
  3. Provide hand sanitizing stations at key locations. The points at which people will enter or leave a room or building are ideal locations for hand sanitizer to help attendees prevent their hands from being a source of disease transmission.
  4. Erect physical barriers if necessary. In cases where social distancing isn’t practical, you may be able to put up plexiglass or other types of barriers that minimize or eliminate the risk that one event attendee will infect another.
  5. Avoid reusable items that can’t be sterilized. Reusing items is, of course, good for the environment. However, in light of the pandemic, single-use or digital replacements items are much safer. For example, if you serve food, having customers review your offerings using an app as opposed to a paper menu is preferable.
  6. Eliminate or modify services. Certain types of services will surely be prohibited for the foreseeable future. Buffets, for example, are not likely to be allowed going forward. It’s important to eliminate items that are no longer available from your list of offerings to prevent any confusion on the part of attendees. You should also provide training to your staff on how your processes are changing. You don’t want to assume that word will “get around to everyone,” and then find yourself in violation of an internal or governmental directive.
  7. Publish your process changes widely. Making sure people are aware of changes to your operations is important and can help you avoid awkward situations where, for instance, someone has to be turned away because they didn’t realize that they had to register for an event online and no onsite registration is allowed.

Adopting a Disease-Prevention Mindset

These are, of course, just some of the steps you can and should take to protect your staff and attendees. What’s crucial is that you stay informed about meeting and event restrictions in your area and, just as importantly, develop a mindset of continually looking for ways to update your room layouts, services, and processes for even greater safety.

If you have questions about how Mazévo can be used to support social distancing requirements and give your organization more operational flexibility going forward, contact us today to learn more and schedule an online demonstration of our entirely cloud-based room and resource management solution. 

 

Dean Evans

Dean Evans is the Founder and CEO of Mazévo. Check out his articles about event scheduling software.

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