COVID-19 Compliance Plans for Trade Shows and Outdoor Events

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Compliance plans for tradeshow

We all know that trade show checklists have changed a bit in the past year. It’s always been important to meet deadlines and nail the logistical aspects of planning, but now, you also need to stay up-to-date with the latest COVID-19 compliance regulations and challenges.

Even with the vaccine rolled out, we’re all still working to stop the spread of the virus. Trade shows, conferences, concerts, and other events are all still required to do their part.

Going into the rest of 2021, let’s talk about the most recent COVID-19 compliance plans for outdoor events and trade shows. What do you need to know to host a legal, socially responsible gathering? What does the modern attendee expect as they visit your booths?

Let’s get into it!

Educate Your Event Staff

Educate Your Event Staff

As the CDC states, one of the most important aspects of COVID-19 prevention is educating those running the event. It’s up to the trade show leadership staff to:

  • Tell staff/employees when they are expected to stay home.
  • Educate employees on methods for monitoring their own health.
  • Implement policies that encourage sick employees to miss work – without fear of reprisal.
  • Keep up with the latest CDC guidelines.

handwashing policy

It’s also essential that your trade show/outdoor event offer proper hygiene options. Implement policies on handwashing, garbage handling, ticketing, and all other interactions. Soap and water should be readily available at all events, as should hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

Ensure your trade show staff understands what to do with masks and sanitation materials at every booth. Although you might have the right supplies on hand, you’ll only be in compliance with the latest regulations if your team members know what to do with the supplies.

Provide Optional Virtual Experiences or Shows

Virtual Exhibit tradeshow

Although we’re all looking forward to the possibility of attending events in-person this year, as a trade show planner, you’ll need to assume that not everyone can safely do so. There will be immuno-compromised, cautious attendees who want to see your show displays, but who aren’t willing/able to be in large groups (even if socially distanced).

Therefore, it’s recommended that your trade show/outdoor event offers personalized ways to engage virtually. This can be achieved through webinars, live streams, social media platforms, and more. You’ll keep your event alive without totally sacrificing the in-person element.

Kimberly Powers, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, agreed with other hesitant experts in The Washington Post when she said “I think it will be 2022 before some mitigation measures can be fully relaxed.”

If you’re planning a trade show or big event, outdoor or not, in the next year, you’ll need to assume that many attendees would prefer to participate virtually.

Modify Your Event’s Layout

modified event locations

Another way to stay in compliance with the latest COVID-19 regulations is to alter how people move about your trade show/event. Beyond limiting attendance, you can also:

  • Add extra entrances/exists to avoid crowding.
  • Block off rows/sections of seating to aid in social distancing.
  • Minimize lines at booths by encouraging people to wait before entering spaces.
  • Post signs telling people to stay in open spaces/outdoors as much as possible.

Consider spacing out trade show booths more than you usually would to prevent people from clustering around the same attractions. Remember: the CDC says that although there is not a limit on the number of attendees, “Event organizers and administrators should focus on the ability to reduce and limit contact between attendees, staff, and others.”

Make Your Show’s Compliance Known

COVID-19 regulations compliance

People need to know what your trade show or event is doing to stay in compliance with COVID-19 regulations. Post signs dictating your policies and precautions throughout the area, including in public spaces where visitors will see.

Not only will this encourage people to feel comfortable at your trade show, but it will also remind them to stay in compliance with your regulations as they meander around the booths. Go beyond including signs to “wear your mask.” Include your policies on social distancing, temperature screening, hand washing, cash handling, and more.

Have an Event Incident Response Plan

make incident response plan

The last aspect of the COVID-19 trade show checklist is preparing for the worst. What will you do if there is a spread of the virus at your event? Do you have a plan for a small or large COVID outbreak?

Your trade show’s incident response protocol should include plans for:

  • Flexible refunds if attendees cannot make the event/the event is canceled.
  • Contacting local public health officials in regards to concerns.
  • Overcrowding or a lack of possible social distancing near booths.
  • Reports of attendees and/or employees that have tested positive for COVID-19.

Deciding whether to postpone, cancel, or significantly alter your trade show is challenging – and there’s no exact compliance expectation for most kinds of gatherings. It’s up to your leadership team to determine when the crowd size would be too big and what calls for actions/cancellations.

In Conclusion

As you work on your trade show checklist, prioritize safety. Do what you can to prevent overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, and discomfort amongst attendees. When possible, allow people to attend the trade show virtually, and always make it known that your event is taking COVID-19 compliance seriously.

If you need help creating more booths or optimizing your trade show’s design for increased attendee safety, let us know. At Art & Display, we’re always ready to create something incredible together – even when there’s a global pandemic in effect.

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Loren Gundersen

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