The past several months has been unlike no other in our lifetime. Together, we have been navigating a global pandemic, historic levels of unemployment, nationwide civil unrest, mass protests, and natural disasters wreaking havoc throughout our great country.
During this time, we have received a variety of requests from organizations of all sizes and industries asking how best to “Prepare & Prevent” against these numerous risks. Below we have compiled a selection of these requests – should you or your team need any assistance or have any questions, please contact SSG directly.
The key security and safety considerations for returning to hosting meetings in post-pandemic conditions, include:
- Identifying & training your staff responsible for ensuring that new standard operating procedures are followed.
- Adjusting your “Security Plan” to allow for sufficient physical distancing of attendees, providing adequate disinfecting stations, temperature monitoring, and determining when emergency reaction plans overtake health concerns.
- Gauging the comfort level of attendees and identifying behaviors of concern – and have a “Plan of Action” to address any concerns.
- Identifying potential resources and support for attendees facing adverse circumstances (e.g. emotional/mental health support, emergency financial support, medical support, etc.). This should be a part of your overall “Medical Plan.”
- Communicating clearly and frequently to ensure employees feel that you, the Host, cares about their safety and is open to feedback.
Creating an emergency plan for meetings or gatherings and large community events can help protect the health of your staff, attendees, and the local community. This planning should include:
- Encouraging staff and attendees to stay home if they’re sick.
- Developing flexible refund policies for attendees.
- Providing supplies for attendees and staff that can be used to help prevent the spread of germs.
- Consulting local public health officials about your event.
The CDC recommends several strategies for this. For instance, meeting organizers can:
- Limit attendance or seating capacity to allow for social distancing, or host smaller events in larger rooms.
- Block off rows or sections of seating in order to space people at least 6 feet apart.
- Use multiple entrances and exits and discourage crowded waiting areas.
- Eliminate lines or queues if possible or encourage people to stay at least 6 feet apart by providing signs or other visual cues such as floor stickers, tape or chalk marks.
- Provide physical guides, such as arrows taped on floors or chalked on sidewalks (such as guides for creating one-way routes) and signs on walls, to ensure that individuals remain at least 6 feet apart in lines and at other times and are following the flow of a certain area if applicable.
- Prioritize outdoor activities where social distancing can be maintained as much as possible.
- Offer online attendance options in addition to in-person attendance to help reduce the number of attendees.
- Consider limiting the number of people who occupy the restroom at one time to allow for social distancing.
- Do not allow lines or crowds to form near the restroom. Take steps to ensure that individuals can stay at least 6 feet apart from each other.
The CDC recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in public, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. The CDC also recommends that organizers require staff to wear face coverings and encourage attendees ahead of events to bring and wear cloth face coverings at the event. (You can find the latest CDC guidelines for wearing masks here)
Cloth face coverings are most essential when physical distancing is difficult (such as when moving within a crowd or audience). Cloth face coverings are meant to protect other people in case the wearer is unknowingly infected but does not have symptoms, not necessarily to protect the wearer. Cloth face coverings are not surgical masks or respirators. They are not personal protective equipment.
One of the trickiest aspects of running events will be the increased level of risk companies will expose themselves to. If you decide to go ahead, there will be an immediate burden of considerations to scope out in terms of insurance coverage.
A non-exhaustive list includes:
- Force majeure clauses and coverage for cancellation or further postponement.
- Coverage for attendees that may contract the virus at the event.
- Coverage for staff that may contract the virus at the event.
- Exposure of spread to vulnerable individuals.
Don’t be afraid to host meetings and events! Communicate to your attendees what to expect upon arrival to your meeting.
Assuage their fears and remind them of the “facts” as reported by the CDC in their 09/29/2020 report on the overall COVID-19 infection fatality rate (IFR)—the share of Americans infected by the virus who have died is about 0.65 percent. That is a 99.35% survival rate if you have the virus – regardless of age.
According to those “best estimates,” which were published in September, the Infection Fatality Rate is 0.02 percent for 20-to-49-year-olds, and 0.5 percent for 50-to-69-year-olds. The CDC did not include an IFR estimate for people 80 or older due to the average age of U.S. citizens at time of their death is 78 years old.
About Greg Shaffer
Greg Shaffer is the author of “Stay Safe – Security Secrets for Today’s Dangerous World” and the founder of the Dallas-based Shaffer Security Group. Greg is internationally recognized as an expert on Active Shooter & Counter Terrorism. Greg also served 20 years as a Special Agent in the FBI, where he was an Operator on their elite “Hostage Rescue Team” (HRT) and also the program manager for their Close Protection Training. Greg has trained counter terrorism teams, SWAT teams, police officers, intelligence officers and civilians across the globe in Active Shooter Response & Special Event Security Planning.