With the Delta variant of COVID-19 continuing to spread, we spoke with attorney Steve Adelman, vice president of the Event Safety Alliance, about how folk presenting organizations can plan COVID-19 safety measures for the coming fall and winter. 

“Although life is more complicated with the Delta variant, the solutions are simpler than ever,” Steve says. When deciding whether or not to hold an event or what modifications to put in place, each venue or festival should make its own COVID-19 risk assessment that takes into account local context, the specific conditions of your event, and current scientific and public health guidance. Here’s Steve’s list of recommended practices for large gatherings:

    1. Require proof of full vaccination. For people who cannot be vaccinated for a legitimate reason only, require a negative result from a PCR test taken within the preceding 48 hours.
    2. Require everyone to wear a face covering except when actively eating, drinking, or performing.
    3. Hold events outdoors where possible to maximize air flow, which reduces the possible viral load one could breathe in.

None of these measures is completely foolproof.  But together, by layering multiple different strategies for protection, they are a highly effective application of the “Swiss cheese model” of risk management that works in many other contexts.

The one option that should be completely rejected is doing nothing to protect everyone’s health and safety,” adds Steve. You can find more comprehensive guidance about COVID-19 safety planning in the guide Health and Safety Guidance for In-Person Events, published in October 2021 by the Event Safety Alliance.

Once you’ve decided the precautions you’ll put into place, make a plan to communicate them effectively to staff, volunteers, patrons, and the general public! Check out our article 4 Steps to Communicating COVID-19 Risk for more.

This article was created as part of the Changing the Tune project, developed in partnership with Majestic Collaborations and made possible thanks to a grant from Performing Arts Readiness.