With the rates of COVID-19 vaccinations accelerating rapidly over the last few months, businesses can continue to gradually reopen. For most of us, this means light at the end of the ‘Zoom fatigue’ tunnel. In reality, this means balancing our desire to connect outside of our screens while remaining vigilant and protecting ourselves and others against the coronavirus.
Now that guidelines allow 100 people inside event venues in Massachusetts, and 50 are allowed inside event venues in Cambridge, your organization might be considering hosting a small in-person or hybrid event. Here are some recommendations to keep in mind as you begin planning:
Establish COVID-19 Safety Guidelines
Do each of your available rooms have maximum capacity numbers clearly posted? Are there visual markers to denote social distance compliance in areas where congregating can occur? Both of these should be determined well in advance of any meeting or event. Work with your team to establish strict guidelines to ensure social distancing and availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitation, so both you and your guests can feel confident and comfortable in your space.
Ensure Your Facility is COVID-19 Compliant
In addition to arranging conference rooms so all stations/chairs are at least 6 feet apart, there are several other measures you can take to stay compliant. You can also develop a dedicated floorplan path to promote and ensure one-way traffic entrance and exits. Be sure to have numerous hand sanitizer stations set up throughout the facility and individual hand sanitizers throughout the meeting room. Wearing masks has already become the norm, but it is also encouraged to have additional masks on hand if any visitors’ masks aren’t up to standard, or if a visitor has lost or misplaced their mask.
Develop a Comprehensive Visitor Policy
The safety of your employees should remain the top priority. First and foremost, establish a policy that prohibits unscheduled visitors from gaining access to your facility. From there, develop visitor requirements that will apply to everyone, including visitors who may not have any symptoms. Each visitor must wash their hands and receive safety training on arrival, disinfect workstations after use, avoid shaking hands to greet other attendees, etc. In addition, be sure to develop a plan for contact tracing so you are aware of every visitor that enters the facility on a specific date. (Note: For more ideas on what measures to include, check out the MassBioHub’s COVID-19 Visitor Policy.)
Finalize a Plan for Catering Services
Determine in advance if you want to allow catering for events. If so, make sure you work with your caterer and each of their service providers to make sure they understand and follow your safety protocols and guidelines. You can also stagger delivery times to avoid any potential contact between attendees and providers. As a note, if you are providing catering services, make sure all food and supplies are individually packaged or boxed, or served by a dedicated attendant to avoid multiple touch points on a buffet.
The most important thing to keep in mind as you consider when and where to plan your next meeting is that the pandemic is not over yet. Continue to social distance, wear your mask, and make plans to get a vaccine as soon as you are able.
If you aren’t quite ready to meet again in person, the MassBioHub’s experienced production team can assist with any virtual event, from a webinar to a full-scale hybrid conference. Learn more about our offerings for both virtual and in-person events at: https://hub.massbio.org/