The two core elements of controlling the spread of the infection are distance and cleaning. Contact with surfaces where infected aerosols have landed is another form of transmission and the reason why regular cleaning is so important. There are many other contributing factors such as time exposure, indoor/outdoor, air movement, UV Levels from sunlight but in this contribution, I will focus on distance as a control. We are all familiar with the 1.5m distance and certain square metre per person requirements. These requirements may seem to contradict each other but both are really just rough indicators to determine the occupancy of an area. 4m2/person means that there will be 2m between people, 2m2/person reduces that to about 1.4m, both close to the 1.5m we are used to. These are all just indicators what we should aim for when managing the getting together of a group of people, be it 20 pax or 20,000pax.
Crowd management is the obvious tool to manage the distancing between people, primarily during arrivals and departures. Once inside the event space distancing is easier to control when people are static, it is when people move around that the risks are highest. It is during those times that we need to determine how we can reduce the density of crowds within a space and control the flow of people. Crowd management in its’ purest form is a mathematical model used to control crowds’ behavioural patterns. To apply crowd management in COVID Safe conditions, we must understand the demographic of the crowd, the type of event and the crowd expectations. Clear and consistent information is core to managing a crowd. People will always take the shortest route to where they need to go. The best way to maintain distancing is to have people move in the same direction, the worst situation is where people’s path cross each other. The further out from their final destination we can start guiding them, the better chance we have of keeping COVID Safe distances. Whether it is a seated event, a dinner or a stand-up cocktail, always provide people with detailed information how to arrive at their destination.
Where applicable, start with which gate they should use to enter the venue. Make sure that you spread the crowd around as much as reasonable possible. That may require additional staff, but it is a cost worth spending. Clear signage is very important, no point telling someone to enter through Gate G and only have an A4 sized sign stuck on the wall. Maintain that directional signage throughout the arrival areas so that once you have past an key point, you can immediately see the next direction. Also make sure that directional signage for toilets, cloakrooms, box office and other services are very clear and easy to follow. Equally important is clear and consistent information for staff. There must be a clear message about COVID Safe procedures that must be upheld by all event staff. COVID Marshalls will be required to maintain safe distancing and provide guidance to your guests. Some people may feel uncomfortable in a crowd under the current circumstances. That is another reason to have a clear and functional COVID Safe plan, it gives people confidence that their safety is considered and maintained. It is early days for the new normal.
Crowd Management will be a much applied technique to maintain safe distancing at events. We are lucky to have many experienced and qualified crowd managers working within the event sphere. Make sure you incorporate them for your next event!
Roderick van Gelder
[m] 0414 406 052