Concerns about event safety and security during COVID-19

The event industry is well aware of its enormous responsibility vis-à-vis visitors, customers and partners. The safety and security of visitors as well as occupational safety and health have played key roles in the planning and staging of events for many years. But amidst the backdrop of coronavirus fears and the spread of COVID-19 nowadays, event organizers, large venue promoters, and major league sports teams, must make tough decisions on whether or not to host their events or cancel.

The decisions are not easy to make. Given the lack of good information on how the virus is transmitted and how contagious the virus can be, most event organizers have opted for an abundance of caution.

- Can I organize an event during Coronavirus pandemic?

Events can fundamentally be carried out within the framework of some safety and security rules if it can be ensured that during the entire duration of an event all persons involved and present are verifiably not infected with COVID-19 and not contagious or have already acquired immunity.

- What measures should be taken for organizing an event during COVID-19 pandemic?

According to health authorities; for all events, a manipulation-proof list of participants including the recording of the attendance and working hours should be maintained. Seamless tracking in compliance with data protection and privacy regulations should be ensured and provided to the relevant authorities if required. Furthermore, the use of a tracing app is explicitly recommended. In addition to this, valid and recognized hygiene regulations related to COVID-19 must be applied during the events.

- Should I cooperate with an health institute about safety measures needs to be taken in my event?

In fact, some event organizers believe that, events can be held if supplementary regulations on compliance with minimum distances and with additional hygiene requirements are followed. But, this is a serious decision and it requires a documented risk analysis to be carried out by the organizer, which must be based on a general hygiene concept to be developed in cooperation with an health institute.

As maintaining a minimum distance among all the participants of an event is the key issue for the safety of everyone, event organizers consider it as the primary decision point. Should it not be feasible to maintain minimum distances in individual cases or in individual areas of the event venue, you should either postpone the event or apply more stringent hygiene conditions and measures. If you decide to organize your event, these hygiene conditions and measures must be explicitly described in the risk analysis and approved by the authorities.

- What are the general regulations for holding events during COVID-19?

To ensure that visitors and other persons involved are not contagious, written verification of immunity or verification that the person has no acute illness is required. This verification will ensue via a swab test carried out on the evening before the event. After prior consultation with the relevant health authorities, the implementation of testing is to be secured with potential contractual partners (test laboratories).

Alternatively, a test (quick test) carried out directly on site can serve as verification. This quick test must also be coordinated in advance with the relevant health authorities. The test is voluntary; if an event visitor or a hired service provider, employee, or artist does not take the test, they should not be permitted to enter the event venue. The organizer should bear all costs for conducting and analyzing the tests. The protection of personal data must be ensured.

For the entire duration of the event, it must be ensured that no unauthorized persons can enter the event premises.

As a rule, all persons involved and present must carry their face masks with them and in the event of a disruption (e.g. evacuation, fire, etc.), they must comply with the instructions of the security personnel on site. The organizer must also provide a sufficient supply of face masks and provide them to persons who require them at the entrance to the event premises.

- What are the general Hygiene Regulations for events during COVID-19?

Doors to the respective premises within the event venue must be kept open insofar as this is permissible (except for rooms with electronically controlled doors), in order to prevent virus transmission via door handles.

Door handles, handrails on staircases, frequently used surfaces (furniture, tables, counters, toilets, especially the toilet flushing mechanisms, faucets, etc.) must be cleaned and disinfected regularly (several times per hour). Where possible, temporary sealing of highly frequented surfaces (handrails, cloakroom and accreditation counters, visitor furniture, etc.) should be undertaken using appropriate means.

Dispensers with disinfectant must be installed in clearly visible locations at all entrances and exits. In addition, at least 1 dispenser per 50 visitors must be kept available at neuralgic points within the event venue. Likewise, in the toilet facilities sufficient numbers of dispensers with disinfectant must be provided.

- What are the rules for contributors and staff during COVID-19?

The number of persons working simultaneously within the venue will be reduced by equalization during the set-up and breakdown work as well as by the formation of smaller working groups with specifically defined times and working areas. Compliance with the hygiene regulations, distancing regulations and other occupational safety and health standards relating to SARS-CoV-2 must be ensured at all times.

By recording all participants from the various trades in advance as well as the seamless recording of attendance and absence times at the event venue, it must be possible to make all persons involved in the event with their contact data available to the health authorities at all times, even after the event, in order to trace and track possible chains of infection.

Instructions on the protective hygiene measures implemented at the event venue, required rules of conduct, the responsibilities involved and contacts will be ensured - on site in written and visual form (barrier-free) in advance of the event as well as when entering the venue.

All participants and employees involved in an event will be informed in advance by the respective employer about the necessity of carrying a face mask with them and possibly wearing it. This must be carried at all times within the event venue and must be worn if maintenance of the minimum distances is at risk. Violations of these rules can lead to persons being expelled.

- What are the requirements for an event venue during COVID-19?

For the respective event venue, it is necessary to differentiate between occupied areas, areas of moving traffic and special areas.

Occupied areas include all areas of a venue in which event visitors can remain stationary for a period of time and for which a higher risk of longer-term personal contact must be assumed. Examples include presentation areas, catering areas, accreditation counters, cloakroom areas and sanitary facilities. In these areas the generally applicable minimum distance of 1.5 m (4.9 ft) must be maintained between persons at all times and must be monitorable.

- What measures must be taken in presentation areas of an event?

For seating plans, appropriately dimensioned seat and aisle widths and spacing must be planned.

Traffic areas include all areas of a venue in which event visitors move between the various event performances and sections. Examples include corridors, stairwells and emergency escape routes. Informational signs at all neuralgic points of the venue make visitors aware of these recommendations (entrances and exits, sanitary facilities, event area). These instructions are shown in an easily understandable and accessible (barrier-free) form.

Furthermore, additional distancing rules and measures must be implemented for special areas at the event venue. These include, among other things:

  • The entrance, admission area, accreditation, and cloakroom: Suitable methods of access control by security guards and/or devices (e.g. floor markings, room partitions, pedestrian flow control systems, signal light systems) must be provided in order to ensure that the minimum distance between persons of 1.5 m(4.9 ft) is maintained at all times.
  • Presentation and catering areas: In addition to suitable seating plans, in areas where lines may form (e.g.access to a presentation or a catering station), personnel and devices (e.g. floor markings, barrier tapes)must be employed to ensure and monitor the minimum distancing.
  • Sanitary facilities: Access to sanitary facilities must be controlled by personnel and/or devices (e.g. floor markings, barrier or signal light systems, pull principles) so that the minimum distance between persons of 1.5 m (4.9 ft) within the sanitary facilities can be ensured at all times. Within the sanitary facilities, toilet stalls, urinals and wash basins must be reduced to ensure that the minimum distance between persons is likewise ensured.

In general, the following rules also apply to all areas:

  • For events, corresponding event plans (seating plans) must be prepared in accordance with the applicable regulations, and submitted to the relevant authorities for approval.
  • In so far as this is possible, the event venue must be divided into zones (or spaces) to achieve controlled distribution of the visitors. A concept for visitor flow management must be developed to prevent space overloads, traffic jams or high population density (e.g. by applying the pull or heijunka principle). Access to the zones must be controlled. Ushers support the controlled filling and emptying of the seating areas.
  • Advance capacity planning can also help in this regard (advance registration for individual presentations),as can the use of the following: accreditation systems,
    access control systems,
    anonymous temperature measurement and guest-per-area measuring systems,
    pedestrian flow control systems in front of entrances and exits, or
    information systems in the event of area overload.
  • In addition to suitable seating plans, the minimum distance between persons must be ensured and monitored in areas where lines can form (e.g. access to the presentation, entrances, etc.) by personnel anddevices (e.g. floor markings, barrier tapes). Separate entrances and exits should be provided if possible. These must be adequately marked.
  • The distancing rules must be ensured and monitored for all persons involved and present (event visitors as well as all service providers, employees and artists employed during the event) for the entire duration of the event (set-up, event, breakdown) by the relevant personnel.
  • Should a situation arise in which there is a risk that compliance with the distancing rules cannot be maintained, all persons present must immediately put on their face masks.

- How to prepare an additional hygiene concept for events during COVID-19?

In addition, a comprehensive hygiene concept must be prepared by a specialist for the event on the basis of the ISO standards that are applicable to the operation or on the basis of the existing HACCP concept. The following criteria must be met:

  • Presence of a hygiene officer (analogous to a health and safety coordinator) during the entire event.
  • Preparation of an additional standard plan for event hygiene based on HACCP monitoring and evaluation of compliance with the standard plan for event hygiene and the management process flows before, during and after the event.

In addition, the following measures must be implemented at the event venue:

  • Cleaning and disinfection of the hand contact surfaces: 

All hand contact surfaces must be disinfected prior to the start of the event. In particular, these included door handles, table surfaces (especially in the catering area), handles/grips on chairs, etc. Disinfection must be done mechanically.

Hand contact surfaces with intensive hand contact over the course of a day must be disinfected repeatedly. The frequency of such disinfection must be precisely specified prior to the start of the event. For multi-day events, the cleaning and disinfection work must be done at the end of each day of the event.

  • Cleaning and disinfection of the floors: 

Floors must be cleaned every workday, and if there are large numbers of people, additionally cleaned depending on the level of visible soiling. Disinfection of these surfaces is not required.

  • Cleaning and disinfection plan: 

A cleaning and disinfection plan must be prepared that clearly states which surfaces must be cleaned by which personnel, how often they must be cleaned and disinfected, and what cleaning and disinfection agents must be used.

  • Disinfection measures of the persons present at the entrance to the event venue: 

All employees must disinfect their hands before beginning work. All event visitors must disinfect their hands during registration.

- Recording of the participant groups

To trace and isolate possible chains of infection, it is essential that all participants and visitors are known and electronically recorded with their contact data. All entering and leaving of the venue must be electronically recorded and documented. These data must subsequently be made available to the health authorities if there is a justified need to do so, subject to compliance with data protection and privacy regulations.

If available, the use of a tracing app compliant with data protection and privacy regulations is also recommended for events of a certain size and/or for certain groups of people.

Detailed information on protective measures implemented at the event venue must be provided in advance to enable personal risk assessment relating to possible participation.

- What measures must be taken at arrival and departure, transport and transfers against COVID-19?

When using local public transport or individual transfers (trains, planes, local public transport, taxis and shuttle buses), compliance with the relevant applicable guidelines is required. Carpools must be avoided. For shuttle buses, compliance with maximum capacities (hygiene concepts of the transport companies) and minimum distances is required.

Separate entrances and exits must be planned and fixed walking directions defined. Adequately dimensioned waiting areas that enable compliance with the minimum distances must be provided.

- What measures must be taken at entrances and exits at the event venue, cloakroom, accreditation?

Separate entrances and exits must be provided at the event venue and clearly marked. Adequately dimensioned waiting areas that enable compliance with the minimum distances must be provided. The minimum distances must be ensured at the entrances and exits at all times. Protection from rain in outdoor areas must be ensured.

Suitable methods of access control by security guards and/or devices (e.g. floor markings, room partitions, pedestrian flow control systems, signal light systems, pull principles) must be provided. Admission must be planned so that it is staggered as far as possible, so that visitor density does not exceed specifications.

Persons with symptoms (even if the symptoms are mild) may not enter the event venue. Should a person manifest symptoms within the event venue, an FFP2 mask without a vent must be applied, and the person's departure from the venue and immediate isolation arranged; the person must also be informed that he/she needs an immediate medical examination and diagnosis. Quarantine measures for the contact persons must be immediately and rigorously implemented. Quarantine and isolation must take place in accordance with the applicable recommendations of the RKI at the time symptoms are noted and in close coordination with the relevant health authorities. The information must be entered immediately in a tracing app, if such an app is available.

Visitor check-in and check-out must be as contactless as possible (ticket, barcode). Do not use self-check-in modules with touch panels. Cloakroom tokens must be issued in contactless form (e.g. digital cloakroom tokens). Minimum distances must be maintained from and by the cloakroom and accreditation personnel and/or adequate protection from coughing, sneezing and spitting must be provided.

All participants are required to carry a face mask with them at all times. The organizer must additionally provide adequate face masks at the entrance.

- What other measures must be considered while organizing an event during COVID-19?

Ventilation of the event venue

Adequate ventilation for all rooms/areas in the entire venue must be ensured. In particular, adequate and regular ventilation/airing of smaller rooms with low ceilings must be ensured.

Catering, serving of food and beverages

The deployment of a hygiene officer will ensure a high standard of hygiene in accordance with a HACCP concept to be prepared and the ISO standards applicable to the respective operation.

  • Food and beverages must be pre-portioned ad served in sealed packaging. For unpackaged food, spit protection walls must be used, face masks worn and hygiene and distancing rules followed. Otherwise,only packaged, sealed food may be served. Self-service is prohibited.

Compliance with the distancing rules during meals

  • Decentralized serving points must be planned to counteract excessive staff and visitor density. If this is not possible for reasons of space, only table service is permitted.
  • Seating must be managed in such a way that the minimum distance between persons is ensured during the meal.

Handling catering equipment

  • Reusable dishes and cutlery as well as glasses and other catering equipment must always be cleaned in high-temperature dishwashing systems (> 70°C/158°F).

  • Manually washing dishes in sinks is prohibited.

  • Contamination must be precluded with suitable packaging during transport and storage.

  • Self-service stations are permitted only for individually packaged dishes and cutlery.

Catering personnel

All employees in the catering area must undergo regular training for all necessary additional hygiene measures. Regular hand washing and disinfection must be planned and coordinated. Employees that prepare, arrange or serve open food or beverages must wear face masks. Orientation to the minimum distance rules is required in the kitchen area as well.

Program planning

When planning the program and throughout the event itself, care must be taken to reduce close encounters (podium, artists on stage).

Area, room and stage dimensions must be reviewed to ensure adequate safety distancing in the conceptualization phase. On show stages and other presentation areas, positioning and escape plans, walkways, etc. must be planned with sufficient spacing. Safety distances must also be maintained here at all times.

Other measures are to be applied as follows when required:

  • Active integration of a moderator in visitor management. The moderator not only manages and guides visitors through the event, but also instructs and informs them at the beginning and repeatedly during the event about the safety and hygiene precautions that must be taken.
  • The performers (artists, moderators, musicians, talk show guests, etc.) must be assigned separate andmarked dressing rooms. Collective dressing rooms are not permissible. Upon arrival, each actor will be given a safety and hygiene briefing.

Participatory activities, showcases, sponsor, sales and exhibition stands

Participatory and interactive activities are possible only under very strict conditions that must be described inthe hygiene concept. Here the focus is on "demonstration instead of trying things out". Displays and devices required for trying out equipment must be disinfected after every use by a visitor.

Gatherings of people around stands, showcases and attractions must be prevented. The minimum distance rules must be complied with at all times and face masks must be worn in areas where the minimum distance cannot be maintained.