Hosting in-person events during a pandemic poses inherent risks for Eventbrite’s creators. It’s crucial that creators recognise the threat COVID-19 poses and take appropriate action based on the level of risk of transmission at your event. All creators have a responsibility for the wellbeing of their staff and attendees at their event. 

“There will be no event that is risk-free,” says Dr. Jeff Runge, senior advisor at the Chertoff Group, the risk-management and security consulting firm we partnered with to develop Eventbrite’s COVID-19 Safety Playbook for Events. “It’s the duty of the event creator to make sure attendees have the information that they need to make the decision to attend. Part of that calculus is the prevalence of COVID in the community, their own personal risk factors and the conditions they will face when they’re in the event.”

To make a risk-based decision to host, postpone, modify or cancel a future event, event creators should complete a risk assessment — as outlined in Eventbrite’s COVID-19 Safety Playbook for Events — to consider risk factors, safety steps, and residual risk, and update this assessment with new information and guidance regularly as your event approaches. While the risk of transmission can’t be eliminated, only managed, this process will help you make informed decisions about risk acceptance for your event.

Before getting started with our COVID-19 Risk Assessment for Events worksheet, remember that it is your responsibility to get up-to-date information about how COVID-19 is affecting your area, in addition to recommendations and restrictions, and to proactively collaborate with local authorities and public health officials — which take precedence over the suggestions in the Safety Playbook. The risk assessment found in the Safety Playbook assumes no mandatory prohibitions impact your event or gathering and that you implement all basic safety steps outlined.

Once you decide to host an in-person event, the Safety Playbook can help you identify inherent risks and other factors that may affect your event and understand mitigation options aimed to reduce COVID-19 transmission risk at your event. Here’s a look at those risk factors, along with suggestions for how to mitigate each one. 

Risk factor: Local health officials declare active COVID-19 “community transmission” in the target market/locale and/or event goers will attend the event from areas or locales with widespread community transmission.

Potential safety steps to take:

  • Adjust event capacity and modify the event-space to enforce physical distancing rules, including placing tape on floors in queuing areas at intervals, to reduce or eliminate event-goers and staff coming within two meters of one another.
  • Depending on the event, consider “shifts” of attendees, or timing windows based on age, to reduce attendee density and allow for cleaning between “shifts.”
  • Assigning medical personnel (if present) to visually evaluate attendees as they enter the venue and ask patrons experiencing symptoms (e.g., coughing) to undergo additional screening. To address various layers of risk, the goal would be to conduct a baseline physical assessment for event-goers exhibiting symptoms, which could include visual cues, temperature scanning, or other basic evaluations.
  • Consider implementing a refund policy for individuals that are unable to attend the event because they display symptoms or providing those attendees with another way of viewing the event (such as a livestream)

Risk factor: A large number of event goers (greater than 50 people) may attend the event. 

Potential safety steps to take:

  • Depending on the event, consider “shifts” of attendees, or timing windows based on age, to reduce attendee-density and allow for cleaning between “shifts.”
  • Adjust event capacity and modify the event-space to enforce physical distancing rules, including placing tape on floors in queuing areas at intervals, to reduce or eliminate event-goers and staff coming within two meters of one another.

Risk factor: The event format is indoors, and/or high-density scenarios are contemplated 

Potential safety steps to take:

  • Require WHO-recommended face coverings to be worn by all attendees and event staff.
  • Limit the number of attendees and duration of the event.

Risk factor: The event is likely to attract individuals in higher-risk categories (those over 65, or immunocompromised attendees).

Potential safety steps to take:

  • Depending on the event, consider “shifts” of attendees, or timing windows based on age, to reduce attendee-density and allow for cleaning between “shifts.” Higher-risk groups should generally be the first age group to attend.
  • Modify the event-space to enforce physical distancing rules, including placing tape on floors in queuing areas at intervals, to reduce or eliminate event-goers and staff coming within two meters of one another.
  • Require WHO-recommended face coverings to be worn at all times by all attendees and event staff.

Risk factor: The COVID-19 outbreak has degraded other essential first-responder services in the locale (i.e., medical response, fire, and law Enforcement).

Potential safety steps to take:

  • Create a plan to respond to medical or other predictable natural and man-made threats and hazards (e.g., security incident, fire, weather emergency).
  • Identify the closest hospital or health centre should someone become ill.
  • Staff or supply a first aid station for minor injuries or sick attendees.

Risk factor: Event-goers are unlikely or unwilling to bring and wear face coverings or other personal protective equipment.

Potential safety steps to take:

  • Consider purchasing and providing WHO-recommended face coverings for all attendees.
  • Require that attendees self-certify that they will comply with the event’s safety policies and procedures including wearing face coverings and that violation of policies will cause removal from the event. Assign event staff to enforce these rules.
  • Message all attendees before arrival, advising them that face coverings and/or other personal protective equipment will be required for entry.
  • Post signage at event entrances indicating that face coverings and/or other personal protective equipment must be worn as a condition to enter the facility.
  • Designate one or more staff members to enforce physical distancing and face covering requirements throughout the event. 

Risk factor: The event will require exchange of items or provisions (e.g. ticket, identification, payment, class supplies)

Potential safety steps to take:

  • Use a contactless method for exchanging or verifying items.
  • Disinfect and pre-position items at event-goer stations.

Risk factor: The event will serve food or beverages to attendees, increasing their contact with staff and one another.

Potential safety steps to take:

  • Eliminate food and beverage service.
  • If food and beverage service cannot be eliminated, consider pre-packaged, single-serve options. Consider avoiding all communal buffet-style meals.
  • Given difficulties around consuming beverages and food while wearing face coverings, consider added physical distancing to allow for temporary removal of face coverings in designated areas only.

For additional considerations, especially for large events, safety experts recommend the WHO’s risk assessment and online learning course.

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