As Covid19 cases cross a grim 2.4 million in the US alone, the market is opening up, though not the way it was before. This pandemic and the global lockdown that followed will certainly reshape our cities forever. In fact, some traces of the post-Covid19 world are already visible in the way the F&B and Events industry have adapted to living with coronavirus.
Don’t worry, events and parties are not cancelled, because humans crave the company of similar people and nothing can stop us from socializing and exploring the world. While remote working and social distancing have become phrases of the year, it is certain that hygiene mandates and social distancing will apply to all gatherings, from meetings to parties, events and exhibitions.
Here are some of the ways that public life and social spaces will be transformed as a result of the pandemic-
Health and safety protocols-
Thermal sensors will become a norm, along with masks and sanitizers in all booths. If masks don’t help the photos, try face shields, but shield yourself you must! Surveillance of participants, aimed at detecting and managing individuals developing symptoms during the event will be mandatory to ensure a relaxed function. Being cautious is more pragmatic than fixing mistakes than can prove to be deadly!
Open space design to discourage crowding-
Tables farther apart and wider aisles, tape lines and circles to enforce social distancing. Buffets are likely to go out, with more people favoring pre-packed meals handed to everyone separately. Avoid serving a meal where multiple people touch hands, like taking nachos from the same bowl, water from the same water cooler, etc.
Dual participation option- attend in person or experience virtually-
As music concerts, fundraisers and every imaginable gathering got canceled back to back, brands stepped up their game with virtual events, conducted on Instagram Live, Facebook Live, Zoom, and other live video broadcast and conferencing applications. As everyone was home, these virtual events picked up. Experts believe that this trend will stick, giving people an option to stay home if they feel like it! Dual-participation options will also help companies spread their campaigns to a bigger audience across wider platforms than ever before.
High production value for live virtual events-
Following the point above, the surge in virtual events will create an ecosystem where high quality virtual events are taped and uploaded for the e-audience.
Small gatherings, cap on size of attendees-
In 2020, pictures of thousands of people swaying together in a concert does not evoke a yearning, but makes you uncomfortable at the sight of so many people squeezed together. A large gathering can easily become a petri dish for infections if even one sick person attends the event. For this reason, after ensuring the implementation of the safety and hygiene norms, event managers will also prefer to keep events small.
Taking advantage of outdoor space-
It has now been proven that the coronavirus spreads differently indoors and outdoors. The verdict is that people are safer from getting infected from people in close proximity outdoors, simply because of open wind and ventilation not confining disease-causing particles inside a room. This means you can expect more outdoor events, more summer weddings off-season, and more porch parties than basement parties!
WHO’s guidelines recommend the management of any social gathering on “Advising people to observe physical distancing, respiratory/cough etiquette, and hand hygiene practices. Advising people with higher risk of transmitting COVID-19 that they should not attend the event (e.g. those with COVID-19 symptoms, contacts of COVID-19 cases during their period of quarantine, or those coming from countries/areas with community transmission of COVID-19). Finally, advising people with higher risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19 (e.g. aged ≥65 years or with pre-existing medical conditions), and individuals in contact with higher-risk patients (e.g. residents in same household, long term care facility employees etc.), that they should not attend the event, or making special arrangements for them’
Source- WHO Key planning recommendations for mass gatherings in the context of the current COVID-19 outbreak (https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/10665-332235)
While everyone’s attention is on the panic, the importance of being flexible has shone through. Personally, cancelling team-building events was the right decision since social distancing is our only chance against the virus. Post-Covid19, events will be all about a good time by establishing a comfortable environment for your attendees so they can leave their worries out of the door and truly relax.