How to Limit the Spread of COVID-19 at Your Next Event
Even with rising vaccination rates, COVID-19 continues to pose a threat.
Fortunately, there are ways to start “returning to normal” business practices while still taking steps to limit the spread of the virus. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control have created extensive guidance to help event planners find the safest ways to bring people together.
If you’re planning an event, conference or meeting in the coming months, here’s an overview of everything you need to know in order to minimize the risk of COVID-19, including some important strategies for keeping your facility clean.
4 Ways to Limit the Spread of COVID-19 at Events
1. Design your event to limit exposures
It may be tempting to ignore the pandemic in your planning in hopes that COVID-19 will no longer be an issue by the time your event takes place. But by planning for the possibility of COVID-19 exposures, you can build safety features into your event design and save yourself significant amounts of time, money and stress in the future.
To start, consider the following factors in your planning:
The Facility: If it’s possible to hold your event outdoors, the CDC says this is the safest option. If not, try to find a space that’s large enough to allow for physical distancing between attendees.
The Layout: When setting up your event, try to take steps to promote physical distancing as much as possible. For example, you could provide tables for people to sit at rather than leaving a room open for people to stand and mingle. If attendees will be seated in rows, consider blocking off certain seats to encourage people to spread out. And if food is being served, ask attendees to eat at tables instead of congregating in one area.
The Signage: One easy way to promote physical distancing is with signs, floor stickers or tape markings that remind people to stay at least 6 feet apart. If possible, encourage people to use multiple entrances and exits to help avoid crowds upon entering.
The Schedule: If people need to register or check in for your event upon entry, consider staggering people’s arrival times, or extending the registration period so that people don’t have to stand in line upon entering. If lines are necessary, be sure to use visual cues that encourage people to stay apart. If possible, the CDC also recommends that you continue to offer online attendance as an option, so people who prefer to stay home have the option and the number of in-person attendees is decreased.
2. Pay attention to key risk factors
Not all events contain the same level of risk for COVID-19 transmission, so it’s important to be aware of the variable risk factors and plan accordingly. Some of those factors include:
- The community transmission levels in your area
- Local vaccination rates
- The number of people traveling from outside of your area (airports, airplanes, public transportation and rest stops are all areas where COVID-19 may spread more easily)
- The size of your facility
- The number of attendees
- The length of your event
By considering these things, you can better understand the likelihood of COVID-19 exposure at your event and put additional safeguards into place. For example, if you live in an area with high transmission rates, the CDC now recommends that even vaccinated people wear masks indoors, so you may want to require masks at your event.
3. Prioritize good ventilation
Since COVID-19 is most frequently transmitted through droplets in the air, ventilation systems and overall indoor air quality also play an important role in helping prevent infection at indoor gatherings.
If you own the facility where you’re holding an event, make sure the filtration system has a higher minimum efficiency reporting value, which means it can better trap small particles. Be sure the system is up to date and well-maintained. If you’re renting a facility, be sure to ask about its ventilation capabilities.
Additionally, keeping your floors and carpets clean will improve your facility’s air quality, as carpets can help trap germs when they’re properly maintained.
If possible, keeping doors or windows open during the event for better ventilation. And if you’re using portable fans, try to set them up in a way that will minimize air blowing from one person directly at someone else.
4. Keep your facility clean
It may sound simple, but one way to protect people from COVID-19 at your events is by keeping the facility as clean as possible. In particular, focus on cleaning surfaces or objects that multiple people will touch, since research shows that COVID-19 can spread through contact with contaminated surfaces.
In general, the CDC says that cleaning high-touch surfaces and shared objects once a day is typically sufficient, but they recommend cleaning more frequently in situations where there’s not much physical distancing or where people are not wearing masks.
Beyond just making sure your facility will be cleaned, it’s important to find out specifics about the actual cleaning process in order to make sure it’s effective against COVID-19. We’ve found that many facilities don’t use cleaning processes that work, often because they try to disinfect a surface without cleaning the dirt and debris, which is insufficient.
Rely On DPM Care for Your Surface Cleaning Needs
Event planning during COVID-19 is complicated enough without having to worry about the cleanliness of your facility. If you’re looking to reevaluate your surface cleaning processes ahead of an upcoming event, we’d love to help.