Health And Hygiene Precautions In The Events Industry

March 16, 2020

“HEALTH AND HYGIENE PRECAUTIONS IN THE EVENTS INDUSTRY IS A HUGE RESPONSIBILITY, ESPECIALLY IN THE EVENT OF THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK”

THE ORGANISATION WE TRUST AND TURN TO IN TIMES OF GLOBAL HEALTH TROUBLE – THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION – HAS SPECIFIC GUIDELINES FOR HEALTH AND HYGIENE PRECAUTIONS IN THE EVENTS INDUSTRY

Viruses spread from person to person, so the health and hygiene precautions in the events industry are of particular importance now that the novel coronavirus – named COVID-19 – has spread so rapidly across the planet. Luckily an organisation committed to promoting health, keeping the world safe, and serving the vulnerable – the WHO – has a wealth of resources on their website that address every question, concern and possible situation that could surface amid this new global outbreak.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) website has all the most recent and trusted information that you need. It is important to remember that at this point no-one has all the answers. There is some information that we know for sure, and a lot that we do not. Always double check sources because the spread of inaccurate information is almost just as dangerous as an infectious disease. We must remain alert, not anxious.

The Whaam Concepts SuperTeam are passionate about creating spaces where people meet and engage. As custom brand builders  we design and manufacture experiences and environments for the marketing, retail and events – including exhibitions, tradeshows and brand activations – so health and hygiene precautions in the events industry is a top priority.

But before we put on our Super-Suits, we must make sure that we are going on the right mission. Because not every situation is exactly the same, we must assess the circumstances before implementing any sort of precautions.

For those of us in the events industry, we should pay most attention to the guidelines and best practices when it comes to what the WHO call “Mass Gatherings” – but a mass gathering is not just determined by the amount of people in the room. The definition of a mass gathering can differ depending on where it is, how long it runs for, and even the resources available should anything alarming occur. So even though we might find comfort in concrete numbers, we must be cautious about being too rigid in our perspectives.

 

WHAT ADVICE DOES THE WHO GIVE CONCERING HEALTH AND HYGIENE PRECAUTIONS IN THE EVENTS INDUSTRY?

 

As of the writing of this post the World Health Organisation does NOT recommend cancelling all international mass gatherings because of COVID-19.

“As each international mass gathering is different, the factors to consider when determining if the event should be cancelled may also differ. Any decision to change a planned international gathering should be based on a careful assessment of the risks…”

This helpful document on the WHO website is a perfect resource to start with when considering health and hygiene precautions in the events industry. These Planning Recommendations for Mass Gatherings suggests that we approach our preparations in three phases. Planning, Operational and Post Event.

The Planning Phase will involve making certain that communication between event organisers, the public and local and national health authorities flows seamlessly. Information is key and we must promptly and honestly communicate all that we do know as well as all that we do not. Organisers must also undertake a risk assessment, considering factors such as crowd density, the nature of contact between attendees, possible previous exposure of attendees among others. And of course, a specific action plan must be outlined that includes methods to detect and monitor event-related COVID-19 disease, reduce the spread of the virus and manage and treat ill persons and disseminate public health messages.

Next the Operational Phase, which takes place after the plans have been finalised and the delivery of the event services begin. The WHO continue to stress communication, the regular sharing of information and the co-operation of all parties to ensure that messaging is consistent. Methods of quick and accurate information sharing that reach a range of age groups and varying reading and educational levels. Make sure messages contain an assessment of the risks, and advice and information for those who are healthy as well as suspect they can be infected.

For example: “wearing a face mask is only recommended for attendees who have
respiratory symptoms (for example, cough); it is not recommended if you are healthy” is some useful information that many may not be aware of and will do well to be included in any messaging about an event from the organisers.

A few other health and hygiene precautions for the events industry that can be taken in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak are: surveillance schemes that detect and monitor event related spread, providing isolation facilities at the events themselves, ensuring health provider has access to appropriate testing tools and transport to and stock of treatment facilities.

Part of the Operational Phase would be making sure everyone is aware of basic general practices such as (among other things):

-Stay home if you feel unwell, or are experiencing mild symptoms, such as fever or cough
– Soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers and tissues should be easily accessible in all common areas, and especially at medical treatment sites
– Reduce close contact by increasing the frequency of transport, staggering arrivals, diverting departures and minimizing congregation at sanitary stations and food and water distribution areas.

To date, there is no scientific evidence that supports the screening of participants as a cost-effective measure.

Finally, the Post Event phase. This requires organisers to review event delivery, necessary follow up actions, and identify lessons learned. Meetings with health officials to share information about all symptomatic participants should be arranged, encouragement of individuals who have developed symptoms during the event to self-isolate and proper reporting of information for attendees who were tested and have to return to their home countries.

At the end of the day the outbreak of COVID-19 has made us all look at health and hygiene in the events industry a little closer. As a SuperTeam committed to saving the day of brands and their people we know nothing is more important than public safety and support all efforts to be responsible in this time of new unknowns.

A final thought from the WHO document:

“Organizing mass gatherings during a global health emergency is unusual, but it can be done depending on the risk assessment. Organizers should see any such event as an opportunity to enhance their ways of working and to pass this learning on to both future events and the host country.”

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