In this post: let’s return to the question, “How long before festivals and events can return to the new normal?” What can event planners do in the meantime? Follow CDC guidelines, require event planners to create risk mitigation or safety plans. With rising COVID-19 cases, vaccines appear to be the magic bullet. Rethink your events with these how-to books and the Event Safety Alliance guide.
In late summer of 2020, many of us in the events industry felt the answers were easy and obvious. We simplified it by saying the curve (of coronavirus cases) needed to be flattened, maintained or decreased and the entire world could make in-roads. At that point, I and others, optimistically thought we may start to see scaled back outdoor festivals or events begin planning this fall for next summer.
A former county administrator used this analogy to explain traffic when he said, “We don’t have problems with traffic; we have problems with intersections.” As it relates to the pandemic, I suggest we don’t have problems with the coronavirus; we have problems with people.” We were and are relying on people to do the right thing which includes following the CDC guidelines – wearing masks, social distancing and not holidaying with others.
Because this has not happened, the answer now seems to lie solely with vaccines – their efficacy and availability and whom is inoculated and in what order. What everyone in the health industry feared would happen has happened. People continue to engage without masks and social distancing, and families are coming together to celebrate the holidays as usual. The lag time between connection and rising coronavirus cases, hospitalizations reaching capacity and deaths have collided and are spiraling out of control. Even today individuals believe the pandemic is a hoax as they lie at death’s door in the hospital.
Travel research again and again shows that as COVID-19 cases rise, the interest in consumer travel falls. This further pushes back when people will be willing to attend in-person events. Health care workers and the elderly should be the first to receive vaccines. Healthcare workers are exhausted and the others mentioned are not likely candidates to attend events.
A recent NBC news story reports, the current White House administration “passed on a chance to lock in more Pfizer vaccine doses.” Since vaccines have begun, will enough doses be available to meet demand? Sadly, news stories indicate wealthy individuals in the U.S. are jumping in line ahead of the general population?
One has to wonder … at what point will people who lead an active lifestyle and are more likely to be event-goers be able to receive vaccines?
A cohesive effort by world leaders that trickles down to the leadership in every community will ultimately determine when outdoor events, as well as indoor events can begin. And can begin safely. Event organizers and meeting planners will have spent the last nine months rethinking events from every angle with much of the emphasis on risk mitigation and safety plans. Visit Indy (see related story) is the perfect example of how effective leadership and communication can result in a new normal.
Adam Sacks with Tourism Economics may have suggested the magical answer. If travelers visiting certain countries are required to provide proof of inoculation to enter a given country, then why wouldn’t event attendees be required to document he or she has received the vaccine?
What can event organizers do In the meantime?
Now is the time to begin preparing and rethinking how you could to re-start your major events. Challenges will exist on two levels. How to:
1) Deal with the COVID-19 health and safety precautions once vaccines are distributed and in years to come.
2) Efficiently organize, promote and effectively manage an event.
The number of “how to” navigate COVID-19 guides has grown exponentially and has been the topic of webinar after webinar. I won’t even begin to jump into the fray because of the technical expertise needed but instead will share a well thought out document created by the Event Safety Alliance. To access, click here. They focus on the COVID-19 layer and have done an excellent job.
Separate from COVID-19, if you are looking to stand back and revisit nearly every aspect of your outdoor festival or event to make sure it is functioning at an optimum level, consider reading “Secrets to Successful Events: How to Organize, Promote and Manage Exceptional Events and Festivals.” It’s available on Amazon, at major booksellers and on Kindle.
It is important that you have access to your festival’s key correspondence and document templates. If that’s not possible, consider this companion piece with key documents, contracts, sample forms. Because of the number of forms featured, it’s only available in print thru Amazon and major booksellers. “Secrets to Successful Events Resource Guide: 42+ Easy-to-Use Tools and Resources.“