Vaccination rates are rising, and there’s a good chance that you’re starting to think about in-person events again.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is, there are still variants making the rounds, some of which have the potential to create immense challenges for your group–especially for people who might not yet have received their vaccines.
As an event planner, the last thing you want is to create unnecessary risk–so how do you plan an event when not everyone is vaccinated? Never fear, we have lots of suggestions and ideas to guide you.
Risk Factors to Consider
Gauging risk factors now is much the same as it has been throughout the pandemic. The added challenge is that vaccinated individuals, who are less likely to suffer extreme effects of COVID-19, are more likely to feel confident in accepting the risks of socializing.
As an event planner, that can make it hard to figure out what to do next! Who considers what risks acceptable? Can you still have an indoor event? How can you make sure you have the right backup plan?
When planning your event, make sure you consider:
- Whether the event is indoors or outdoors.
- How many people will be attending? Keep in mind that higher levels of attendance could mean higher levels of viral transmission. The CDC does not necessarily offer specific guidelines for small, medium, and large groups, but does indicate that smaller gatherings are usually informal and made up of people you might interact with on a regular basis.
- Whether your event will involve food of any kind.
- Whether your attendees are likely to mask, and what type of mask policy you want to institute.
How to Diplomatically Ask About Someone’s Vaccination Status
Vaccination has become a hot topic in many political circles–and asking about someone’s vaccination status can quickly raise some eyebrows. However, there are delicate ways to ask about an individual’s vaccination status, especially if you’re planning an event that will require you, or perhaps someone else in the group who is immune-compromised, to be in close contact with them.
Reunacy offers a great tool for asking about vaccination status: admins can create a custom question in their groups, which would display on members’ profiles and pages.
This can help give everyone more information about who is vaccinated and who isn’t–and help them make more informed decisions about whether they want to attend and what precautions they want to take.
1. Label it.
Many event organizers have made it easier to determine at a glance what type of contact people are comfortable with by using bands, stickers, or colored nametags to help indicate their status and comfort level.
If you feel that your attendees will be comfortable, invite them to display their vaccination status–or their willingness to get close to other people–with red, yellow, and green labels.
- Red usually means, “I’m not comfortable engaging in any type of contact; please mask up and stay at least six feet away from me at all times.”
- Yellow could mean a minimal amount of contact: “Comfortable with a conversation with an unmasked individual, but prefer no physical contact.”
- Green can be “Anything goes; I am comfortable with physical contact.”
You could choose to reserve green bands or labels for vaccinated event attendees to help increase the comfort of others.
2. Make it about the health concern (not the political issue).
Because vaccination status has become a highly political issue, many people are reluctant to ask the question at all.
However, a simple explanation can help make people feel more comfortable freely sharing their vaccination status. “I [or others attending the event] have been very careful about social distancing since the pandemic began. Would you be comfortable sharing your vaccination status so that I can decide what precautions I still need to take?”
3. Keep it positive and non-judgmental.
Many people have very specific reasons why they might choose to get vaccinated–or to pass on vaccination for now. Keep any conversations positive and as casual as possible. Avoid casting judgment on anyone for the decision they have made about vaccination, even if it doesn’t match your own.
Promoting Healthy Behaviors that Reduce Spread
Offering up reminders might not change everyone’s behavior, but it can help keep everyone on the same page throughout your event.
1. Encourage distancing by leaving plenty of room at your event.
While some people will not respect social distancing regulations regardless of how much room they have, ensuring that your venue has adequate space for everyone can make it easier to keep everyone healthy.
2. Avoid serving food from shared containers.
Instead, try offering individually packaged servings, if you must serve food. Holding your event at a time that will not require food could also help keep everyone healthier, since attendees will have fewer reasons to remove their masks.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask people to mask up.
You can help avoid some awkwardness related to vaccine inquiries simply by requiring everyone who attends your event to mask up–which may ultimately help keep everyone safe.
Maintaining Healthy Environments
Make sure your environment is healthy for everyone who attends! Try some of these important safety measures.
1. Supply hand sanitizer.
Encourage guests to use it regularly. Consider hand sanitizer stations throughout the gathering area.
2. Clean the environment before attendees arrive.
This is particularly important if your environment has been recently used by another group.
3. Make sure there is adequate airflow.
If you must be indoors, consider opening windows and turning on fans to encourage more air to flow through the room.
Maintaining Healthy Operations
As you plan your event, take care to maintain healthy operations! Consider some of these critical measures.
1. Use markers or stickers to indicate a safe, six-foot distance.
Show guests how to maintain social distancing. Even with a year and a half of practice, some people still struggle to identify that proper distance.
2. Encourage sick people to stay home.
It’s hard to miss an event, especially if you aren’t feeling particularly ill. Now, more than ever, however, it’s critical that sick people isolate until they have returned to full health.
3. Give staff members and attendees options for keeping their distance.
Make sure there is plenty of space for everyone to back up and maintain the distance they’re comfortable with. You may want to use barriers or other measures to help protect staff members, who may have fewer choices when it comes to moving away from guests.
Track Risk as the Event Approaches
For smaller events–those with less than 50 people, for example–take the time to discuss the risk of every individual involved in a specific gathering.
Discuss whether any members of your group are particularly high-risk. When you’re comfortable discussing that risk, you may find that it’s easier to convince everyone involved to take the precautions needed to keep everyone safe.
For larger events–those where it simply isn’t practical to personally evaluate the risk to each attendee–monitor local statistics, protection measures, and other factors that may contribute to increased risk.
The higher the risk to your attendees, the more precautions you need to take. Keep in mind that even vaccinated individuals whose immune systems are compromised in some way may be at higher risk for serious complications for COVID-19.
You may also want to evaluate the risk associated with the gathering as a whole: for example, if you have many unvaccinated people, including children who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, your gathering could cause a greater risk than if most of the people attending your event are vaccinated.
Have a Plan B
If you notice things changing in your local area, you may need to adapt your plans quickly. Have a Plan B in place: an option that will allow you to change your venue (perhaps swapping to something outdoors), cancel the event, or institute further measures to protect attendees.
Warn your attendees–especially those booking travel–ahead of time that they may face this possibility, and make sure you have open lines of communication to everyone in your group so that you can notify them quickly if any challenges arise.
Keep The Size Manageable
Be mindful of your headcount. Many event venues and state requirements may still require you to remain under 50 attendees. Check your venue ahead of time to ensure that you can allow for six feet between tables or groups of people from different households.
The more people you have attending your event, the greater the risk they may all face–and the greater the risk they may pose to everyone present.
Keep in mind that COVID-19 symptoms may not present until several days after an individual has enough of a viral load to spread it to others.
A smaller gathering can help decrease the risk that anyone who has been infected will attend. If you’re comfortable with the risk of mixing vaccinated and unvaccinated guests, but others are not, you may want to consider having separate gatherings to help keep everyone comfortable and safe.
Use Reunacy To Help
Reunacy, gives you a simple way to get everyone’s latest info in one spot so you can organize a happy reunion. Reunacy makes it easy to keep up with the latest details of your event: who can attend, who can’t, and, just as importantly, their vaccination status and how that may impact your gathering.
Right now, things can change in the blink of an eye. Reunacy can make it easier for you to keep up with the latest changes and notify your attendees about those changes quickly so that you can all make informed decisions that will help keep everyone healthier and safer.
Are you ready to start planning events and reunions again? Start a free group today!