Despite the fact that the UK is well on its way out of lockdown, it’s still vital that event venues abide by government COVID-19 regulations. When it comes to preparing your event venue, give yourself plenty of time to get everything right. After all, there are a number of health and safety procedures to follow and steps to take to keep attendees informed, alleviating last-minute worries and making them feel much more comfortable.
From reconfiguring the floor plan to make room for social distancing to having extra staff on hand to monitor the flow of attendees, here’s what UK venues have been doing to prepare for reopening.
A revised floor plan for social distancing
Social distancing is one of the most crucial COVID-19 health and safety requirements for an event. In order to keep your attendees two metres apart at all times, you may need to make some changes to your venue, whether it’s a vast conference hall or intimate boutique shop. (Of course, the size of the space impacts how many guests you’ll be able to have.)
Consider having a one-way system like London event space 58 Victoria Embankment, as well as separate entrances and exits and the ability to control space capacity. If your event is seated, Eventbrite’s customisable venue map is perfect for creating a ticketed floor plan.
Signage reminding attendees to follow guidelines
Make use of signage so that guests and staff know how to travel around your venue with social distancing measures in place. These might include floor stickers and posters signalling which direction to go. Signage can also be used to remind attendees to follow other COVID-19 guidelines, such as wearing a face covering and washing their hands.
Newbury Racecourse has installed a variety of signage, from A boards to digital totems, and big screens across its site to reinforce key safety procedures and protocols for both event staff and attendees.
Sanitising stations throughout the venue
We all know that we can reduce the spread of coronavirus by keeping good hand hygiene. With that in mind, it’s key that you make it easy for your attendees to clean their hands. Ensure that the toilets are always stocked with an adequate supply of soap and that there are hand sanitising stations throughout your venue, just as Como Hotels and Resorts has pledged.
Safety screens at points of contact
You might want to put up safety screens to reduce the risk of transmission at points where staff interact with attendees. This will not only help to keep guests safe but will work to protect your staff, too. For instance, the Royal Horticultural Halls has installed a perspex screen at the welcome desk and Imago Venues has created portable reception pods to shield its customers and staff.
If you have any concerns surrounding COVID-19 measures, check out this handy resource hub with information on best practices for event creators.
Dedicated dining spaces for separate groups
It’s a good idea to set up any dining areas so that groups of guests are kept apart from one another to keep everyone socially distanced. This could be individual dining pods in an outdoor setting or tables evenly spaced throughout a restaurant. You might also want to consider using an app for table service to minimise interactions between staff and customers.
Hand Picked Hotels has reassured its guests that it will have dedicated dining spaces solely for their use throughout their visit. Condiments will be single-use, too. Plus, there will be a hygienic space for diners to store their masks while they eat.
Extra staff for managing attendees
To ensure that social distancing measures are followed by attendees, you may need to hire additional staff. Their responsibilities can include checking that face coverings are worn, monitoring capacity, and making sure attendees remain two metres apart.
Regular cleaning of all communal areas
Regular cleaning of your venue is also key to hosting safer events. Consider hiring a dedicated cleaning team who are responsible for an enhanced sterilising regime. Remember that all appropriate areas of your event venue should frequently be disinfected with healthcare grade cleaning chemicals and sanitisers.
At Amber Lakes, a lodge set within a private nature reserve on the outskirts of London, the frequency of surface and equipment cleaning has been increased, staff are reminded to wipe down surfaces and wash their hands, and disposable cloths are used where possible. Hertfordshire hotel Sopwell House will use an electrostatic spray machine to sanitise frequently used areas and guest bedrooms after each stay. Meanwhile, The Belfry Hotel & Resort in North Warwickshire has introduced a door seal on rooms so that guests can be confident that no one else has entered their freshly cleaned room.
A high-quality ventilation system
Installing a good ventilation system at your event venue will help to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission. This can either be done with technology that works to clean indoor air using the likes of high-intensity UVC light, or with natural air by hosting your event outdoors or keeping windows and doors open.
For instance, Whittlebury Park, a conference centre and hotel near Milton Keynes, has stated that its meeting room doors need to remain closed during sessions, but windows must be kept open to allow for natural ventilation.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff and attendees
When addressing restrictions on live events and ensuring a COVID-secure workplace, the last, but equally as important, thing to consider is PPE for both staff and attendees. You’ll want to source the likes of face coverings, face shields, and gloves for your staff – and ensure you have spares in case attendees forget theirs.
Boosting event safety
Whether it’s installing ventilation technology or building infrastructure to implement a one-way system, a lot of pre-planning goes into making a venue as safe as possible for post-lockdown events. The above list is non-exhaustive, but use it and up-to-date government guidelines to start preparing for your grand reopening.
To help determine and address your event’s risks, check out our COVID-19 Safety Playbook for Events.