As we navigate how to live, work, and perform this fall, one of the ways we can demonstrate care for our audiences is by clearly communicating the risks of attending an event and the measures that are in place to help protect them from harm.
Good communications set expectations for and from event participants in a clear and implementable way. They should provide enough information for audience members to understand how well your event is able to meet their needs and for them to make their own informed consent about whether and how they will participate.
In this list we’ll look specifically at communicating about COVID-19, but this general guidance is applicable to all kinds of safety advisories.
- Explicitly state your risk or assessment metrics. On your website or ticketing platform, link to a COVID-19 safety warning page or section that explains the risks of attending any large gathering. You can link to this COVID-19 advisory page for a general informational advisory, but we recommend you create your own page that includes details about both risk and the precautions you’re taking to mitigate that risk.
- Explicitly state any mitigation measures in place. Ensure your website, ticketing platform, and associated materials clearly specify any entry requirements and required precautionary measures such as masks or distancing. Consider including a statement that acknowledges future uncertainty, for example, “Our entry requirements and precautionary measures are subject to change to protect your safety as we continue to monitor the situation.”
- Train staff and volunteers in your practices. Schedule a pre-event safety briefing for staff and volunteers either in person or online. This should cover a variety of safety concerns, including COVID-19 measures. Here’s a checklist of items to include. This can also be done via a video you send out or by providing a QR code to the day’s video when they check in for their shift. This is a great regular practice to enhance the safety of your venue and the people in it.
- Remind people of practices throughout the event. Provide information verbally and through signage throughout your event reminding participants of the precautions and expectations in place. Below are a few links to free COVID-19 safety signs and other materials you can download or modify for your needs.
If you’re wondering, can’t I just use a liability waiver?
Communicating clearly and effectively about safety isn’t just a question of legal liability, it’s about respecting and better protecting our audiences, staff, and performers. The blanket mandatory liability waivers many organizations implemented early on in the pandemic are actually unlikely to provide much legal protection, and they don’t do anything to help your audiences make an informed decision about their safety. Listen to attorney Steve Adelman, vice president of the Event Safety Alliance, discuss what makes many COVID-19 liability waivers ineffective and what you can do about it. Spoiler alert: it all starts by providing clear and honest communications, for example in the ways we describe above!
For more guidance about what kinds of safety precautions to implement at your event, see our article “Should I require proof of vaccination to enter my venue or festival?” or download the guide Health and Safety Guidance for In-Person Events, published in October 2021 by the Event Safety Alliance.
COVID-19 safety graphics and templates
- COVID-19 safety and awareness graphics from the Canadian government
- “Events and Gatherings” signage from the CDC; other graphics available via the dropdown filters at top
- Templates of various precautions and other business needs from Signs.com and Canva.com (you can also search for more specific kinds of content)
- COVID-19 Materials for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Care Providers from the CDC includes posters, video, and interactive stories about safety precautions and vaccines
- Signs for businesses about COVID-19 measures from the UK’s BCP Council, designed for A4 paper