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The challenges of coming out of COVID and what we’ve learnt can help 

The pandemic has changed society, and work, and relationships, but it has hit fewer industries as hard as it has hit events.
But events are on the way back – because the entire industry has pulled together, focused on the challenge of coming out of this crisis stronger and wiser.
What challenges have the industry overcome and how? Read on to find out:

Back to Square One

The shifting rules and dangers of further lockdowns and therefore cancellations have left the UK virtually event-free for more than a year.
But now the phased return is in progress, how are event organisers responding? And how are their plans changing?

For most event organisers, COVID took the rule book and ripped it up. Virtually no aspect of the event process, from fit out to break down, can continue normally whilst COVID 19 is present in the population. It really is a case of starting again, from first principles.

Testing

The first step is testing those who are working on site – daily tests are a must for everyone coming onto the site, and the recording of everyone, including multiple contact details, coming onto site is also incredibly important.

But this isn’t enough – you need robust protocols setup to show how you would react when a case of COVID was detected in one of those you’ve had on site. If your records allowed you to identify who had come into contact with that person, you have COVID Secure protocols that would stand up to inspection, and that’s what you’re aiming for. Recent test events in Liverpool have proved that this approach works and gives real hope to the industry.

Design

One of the ways that PKL has been able to help events organisers get back open, is in the way we have designed their installation – incorporating space, sanitation stations, and protection that will reduce the spread of the air, and therefore the virus itself.

Our design team have been working throughout the pandemic, designing kitchens and other facilities for public sector clients and more, and have worked hard to make sure every space we install is a COVID Secure space. Screens between sections, larger gaps between equipment, separate prep stations for kitchen staff, hand washing and sanitation stations at every production point and every doorway, have helped professional caterers reduce transmission and give more confidence to staff and clients.

Crowd control

Designing the channel’s event attendees use on the event days to make sure there is social distancing, and that this social distancing is maintained throughout the event, is tough but possible. One-way systems, clear signage and staff trained in giving clear and polite instruction can all help to achieve these aims.

Extend the event

We’ve been working with events that have doubled the days they are going to be live, and carefully controlled ticket sales, to reduce the crowd pressure and improve the experience. For food festivals, literary festivals, and other ‘slow’ experiences, this approach appears to be a good choice as it improves the visitor experience. However, it’s important to be aware that ticket pricing needs to be adjusted to account for the additional overheads.

Conclusion

The events industry in the UK is strong and resilient, despite a year to forget. We’ve been amazed to see how these hard working professionals have adapted and reinvented their industry to keep going and look after their customers. The next 18 months are going to be an amazing as the events industry comes out of its enforced hibernation, safer and more prepared than ever before.

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