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ESA publishes venue reopening guide

Virtual queuing, temperature screening and airplane-like exit protocols are among measures suggested by the ESA to ensure live events can reopen safely

By IQ on 12 May 2020

Event Safety Alliance advises venues on safe reopening

Venues in some countries are being allowed to reopen as lockdown measures are eased

The Event Safety Alliance (ESA) has worked in conjunction with over 300 live event professionals to provide detailed guidance on how to safely resume business during the coronavirus pandemic.

As venues in some US states begin to reopen and events with strict capacity limits are permitted to return in Norway and Spain, the Event Safety Alliance Reopening Guide offers information on how and when to reopen; fan education; employee health and hygiene; venue sanitisation; entry and exit protocols; front of house operations (food and beverage, merchandise); production; and potential legal issues.

Positive, practical and widespread messaging by venue and event professionals is essential in order for concertgoers to become accustomed to using face coverings and adhering to social distancing measures, says the guide, as well as encouraging “nervous people” to reenter public places.

Sanitary measures to be taken by those working in a venue should include maintaining a distance of two metres between individuals, undertaking frequent and thorough handwashing, wearing face coverings and gloves, and undergoing temperature screening.

Similar measures should be taken by attendees, with a venues providing multiple handwashing stations, introducing “virtual” queuing, or staggered, pre-booked entry times, implementing temperature and health screening, and using electronic tickets only.

Although the required two-metre space can be maintained between seated fans by leaving seats empty, a number of additional issues arise for non-seated shows, as the guide states, “patrons cannot all stand at the front of the stage like they are accustomed; moshing and crowd surfing are violations of social distancing per se and must be absolutely prohibited during this pandemic”.

The ESA guide suggests that “high conspicuity gaff tape”, “spray chalk”, “survey flags” or cones be used to delineate two-metre sections within which fans should stand. Ropes or other kinds of barriers can also be used to physically separate patrons.

“If small events and venues can reopen without increasing Covid-19 transmission rates, it will open the door for larger spaces in the future”

In regards to exiting a venue, “social distancing likely requires that egress be managed the same way passengers exit an airplane at the end of their flight”, reads the guide, with those closest to the exits leaving first by row or section.

Contactless ordering and payment and regular cleaning should be implemented by merch and food and drink  vendors, with table service, reduced seating and staggered mealtimes used in dining areas.

ESA vice president Steven Adelman explains that although some of the guidance is applicable to events of any size, the guide is targeted at smaller events that are likely to reopen first.

“If small events and venues can reopen without increasing Covid-19 transmission rates, it will open the door for progressively larger spaces to implement similar measures on a larger scale in the future,” reads the guide. “If, on the other hand, the first attempt at a safe reopening is a  failure, that would set back the entire event industry.”

The organisation intends to produce a second guide which will look in more detail at the additional challenges facing tours and larger events.

“There is no guarantee of an illness-free event even if you follow everything in this Reopening Guide,” writes Adelman. “It is indisputable, however, that planning, training, and implementing reasonable health and safety measures are the best ways to protect live events and the people who create them, while also inspiring patrons to return to the places where we make magic happen.”

The full guide is available to read here.


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