For some, lockdown is coming to an end. The Quebec government, alongside others, has slowly begun lifting lockdown measures. However, a few activities and industries have been exempt from these changes and still find themselves limiting their business activities.
Albeit a decrease in cases, COVID-19 continues its trajectory and we can’t be certain when a second wave will hit us. This is why, even with relaxed regulations, we must continue to apply strict hygienic practices and adapt to these new measures. We can’t remain confined indefinitely and a vaccine isn’t in our immediate future, therefore we must learn to coexist with this virus.
On a day-to-day basis we have been recommended to follow two measures: to practice social distancing and to wear a mask. These same measures are evidently applicable for small family gatherings, but must also be followed when attending other types of events. Although physical distancing seems contradictory to the core value of events, organisers have taken on the challenge to create events that favor a comfortable atmosphere in the midst of an era of masked gatherings.
Physical distancing has proven to be one of the best measures to reduce the spreading of the virus. During events, we can use make use of materials to implement protective measures. Health authorities are presently developing new norms to allow different sectors of the economy to reopen safely. In the next few months, we can presume the following hygienic measures may become the norm:
1. Crowd cords and adhesive floor marking to implement a distance of two meters
These measures are expected to be implemented at registration desks or at the entrance of events. This is a cost-effective solution that will ensure participants respect social distancing.
2. Removable partitions
Rethinking how we design event venues will be essential. In the case of trade shows, using partitions to control foot paths could be interesting. These would also allow us to air out spaces and create larger zones to disperse traffic.
Plexiglass partitions at registration desks and booths are also a viable solution.
Finally, partitions can also be used in conference rooms to create listening spaces distanced from one another.
3. Topiaries and hedges
For outdoors activities and cocktails, we could use topiaries and hedges to incite participants to gather in smaller groups.
4. Towers and personalized light structures
Towers and light structures can be used to display messages regarding social distancing measures.
5. Carpets to guide foot traffic
Carpets paired with adhesive floor arrows can be used to create traffic corridors, similar to what we see in supermarkets nowadays. This would help participants follow a unidirectional route and improve the traffic flow.
6. Adapted conference floor plans
We will also have to review our floor plans to create more distance between participants.
- For theatre events, don’t forget to space out the chairs at least two meters from one another.
- For round tables, a maximum of 5 participants will be able to sit at a 72’’ table.
- For schooling, aim for a maximum of one student per table.
Masks: an essential measure
Finally, masks will also become a vital hygienic measure. Although this measure isn’t mandatory right now, it remains highly recommended by health specialists, especially in a closed space.
Indeed, researchers have concluded that masks could be even more effective than social distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19. By using “laser lighting to observe the droplets we emit when we speak, [researchers] have found that we emit up to 10’000 droplets per second, and that these can survive on in an indoor space for up to 14 minutes.” (Le Monde, 27 mai 2020). In an outdoor space, “without any wind, these droplets can propagate at a distance of maximum 2 meters. With wind however, droplets can travel up to 6 meters, hence our current social distancing measures are inefficient in these conditions. This is why masks are the most efficient barrier against COVID-19, both indoors and outdoors.”
Wearing a mask will progressively become a social norm: politicians and government officials now wear them in public. The prime minister of Quebec, François Legault has even promoted them by disclosing the name of the local artisan who creates his masks during his press conferences. He has also held an event with hockey players from the Canadians where he wore a mask sporting the CH logo.
As an event organiser, we can also influence the public perception of masks by thinking of playful ways to integrate them into event activities:
- Competition of original company slogans that can be printed on masks
- Promotion of local artisans that make masks
- Donation of masks from a company (with company logo)
Each and every one of us are still adapting to this new way of life. However, we haven’t lost sight of what’s most important: our need to socialise. In our current context, the most important role of event organisers will become to create such an atmosphere.
Don’t hesitate to contact us for any questions regarding the implementation of sanitary measures at events!
- Suzanne Colpron, 23 mai 2020. COVID-19: tout sur les mesures de déconfinement au Québec. La Presse https://www.lapresse.ca/covid-19/202005/22/01-5274667-covid-19-tout-sur-les-mesures-de-deconfinement-au-quebec.php