Covid Safe Summer (and Fall) Outings

Yes, you can throw a safe Summer (and Fall) Outing for your employees and their families!  It just takes some smart planning, good supplier choices, and extra care.  

Your most important ally is buy-in so begin by making sure you get it from all your stakeholders—your internal clients, your external partners, and your attendees.  Survey those stakeholders to get a bead on how they are feeling about getting together in person.  Ask them if they feel safe now.  If not now, when do they think they might feel safe, and what specific steps could you as a planner do to help?  Be sure to ask them what type of Outing they would prefer in this late Pandemic era.  

Once you’ve established buy-in, you should carefully consider and create your Duty of Care philosophy. This philosophy should be put into writing as this is the template by which you will keep all your stakeholders safe. A Duty of Care statement will communicate your company’s obligation to protect employees, travelers, and other participants from risks. These risks are typically related to injury, sickness, safety, security, health, and travel.  And in our current Covid 19 era, a clear and workable Duty of Care statement is more important than ever.  Write it, hone it, revisit it and, of course, make sure your internal client/s sign off on your most recent version before you distribute it.   

Now it’s time to reach out to your venue and other suppliers!  Your initial consultation with your suppliers will set the tone of your expectations and their responsibilities throughout the span of your planning through your event. Be sure to properly vet all your suppliers to make sure they too will respect your Duty of Care and will enthusiastically sign onto your company’s Covid safe guidelines. Make sure that each team leader is fully prepared to be responsible for their employees’ behavior and safety, too.

Reach out to an Event designer who knows how to plan your outdoor space so that it conforms to your social distancing guidelines.   As the Planner, you are required to adhere to local city and state requirements, but you are well within your rights to go beyond those measures.  For example:  If your local Board of Health requires three feet of space between attendees at the time of your event, you are free to widen that distance to make all your attendees feel safe.  

If existing space allows, having your outing on company premises allows you the most freedom— you can “rule your own roost” as you see fit.  If your team decides to book an outdoor space off-premise, make sure you get buy-in on your Duty of Care and ask your venue to communicate their existing internal safety guidelines and resources.   It’s a good idea to bring your entire team together for a socially distanced walk-through prior to your event to re-enforce the rules with your vendors and discuss alternative plans in case guidelines change as you get closer to your event date.

Along with your standard events team, you will also need a team to administer temperature checks, distribute the proper signage, double-check seating arrangements and regulate your group’s movements for proper distancing.  A Covid or Pandemic Officer’s assistance helps to ensure everyone is safe and, as importantly, everyone FEELS safe throughout your event.   Depending on the size of your outing, you may need to dedicate an entire Covid team to this effort.  Yes, you can use staff volunteers to assist your Covid Officer to reduce costs. 

Be sure to get all staff and crew names and contact information before your event date and use that list to check people in at your event set up for Contact Tracing purposes.  This is another task that can be handled by your Covid Officer if needed.  Bring all your event team’s leads together at the start of your event set up to review your Duty of Care and all of their responsibilities one more time.   Remember: your Duty of Care cannot be communicated too often!!

Your event Designer can arrange your outdoor space to set the tone for distancing by spacing furniture pieces appropriately and demarking walkways that allow free movement without crowding.  They can also help group families in their own “bubbles” by demarking areas for each group.  Picnic-style events are a wonderful option for this effort.  Put your stage in front and set up your families to the front and the sides with plenty of space in between.

There are many touchless options for your foodservice.  A simple boxed lunch works great for daytime casual outings.  If you want a more traditional buffet, you can call each group up separately and have them pick and choose the items they want— to be delivered when ready by your catering staff.  All buffet stations should be outfitted with sneeze guards so be sure your caterer or vendor offers them or rent them on your own.   And don’t forget that technology is your friend!  Apps can help guide your group’s touchless food service.  Your guests can order directly from an app that then signals them when their food is ready for pick up.

Brainstorm and research activities, games, and roving entertainment that doesn’t require close physical contact outside your group bubbles.    If you choose to bring in games requiring touch, make sure you have plenty of sanitizer on tap and someone available to wipe down equipment between groups. 

Consult with your MC or DJ to help you entertain safely.  He or she can lead group activities families can do in their own “bubbles” and s/he can also remind people to continue to play it safe as your event progresses.  

Speaking of playing it safe, it’s time to talk about alcohol.  If you are thinking of serving alcohol, be sure to carefully consider limits.   Too much alcohol decreases inhibitions and can increase risky behavior so while you want your group to have fun, you also want to make sure they are having fun responsibly!!   Set minimums on free drinks to avoid overconsumption. 

Your event’s lifetime is not over when the last attendee leaves.   Follow up with your event team leads and make sure no one has fallen ill after your event.  Notify attendees to contact you if they or anyone they have been close to displays symptoms or has tested positive for Covid 19.  If anyone does, immediately contact your Covid officer (if he or she is not the one doing the follow-ups) who will then take the proper steps needed to ensure the rest of your team and your attendees are kept safe!

With special attention paid to local guidelines and your event team’s unwavering commitment to a robust and workable Duty of Care philosophy, you and your team can enjoy summer and fall outings together once more.  If you are interested in learning more contact us at Art of the Event! Give us a call today at 781-670-9292. Cheers!!

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