How to prepare your venue for weddings and events in a socially distanced world…
As venues start opening again across the UK and begin hosting smaller more intimate weddings and events, if you haven’t already, now is an important time to ensure you have planned and prepared to make your wedding venue Covid Secure. I am optimistic that we will see a return to larger weddings and live events in 2021 but the evidence suggests that we will be doing so with COVID 19 looming in the background. If we are to ensure the survival of the wedding and events industry then it is vital that we keep our venue staff and guests safe and avoid another lockdown.
Over the past few months I have read and listened to advice and guidance from a number of different sources and have prepared a checklist to help you make your wedding venue Covid Secure and keep you, your staff and your guests safe. Links can be found at the bottom of the page.
- HSE Guidance – The Health and Safety Executive1 exist to keep us safe at work and play. Their website is filled with advice and guidance to help you to make your wedding venue COVID Secure.
- Risk Assessment – You are responsible by law to protect your staff and anyone affected by your work (eg. guests) and have a duty to manage all risk associated with the services you and your employees are performing. To do this you must undertake a risk assessment which will now need to be reviewed to ensure you have considered all the additional health and safety risks associated with COVID 19. The HSE has templates2 available on their website to help get you started.
- Certification – Accreditation goes a long way to reassuring your staff and the public that your venue is safe and that they will be protected whilst working and visiting your premises. There are a number of industry organisations who offer recognised accreditation including MIA (Meetings Industry Association)3 and Visit Britain4.
- Policies – Make sure all your policies are up-to-date (eg. health and safety, evacuation, PPE, staff hygiene) and incorporate any new social distancing or hygiene measures. Changes must be communicated to your staff and all documents should be accessible to them.
- Insurance – Does your insurance cover you for any loss of business arising from future lockdowns or event cancellations due to COVID 19? Is your public liability insurance up to date?
- Emergency Planning – Update your evacuation policy, considering how people can safely exit the building with social distancing measures.
- Staff Communication – Communicate with all your staff and ensure they are aware of your policies and procedures both when selling your venue and delivering events. Update them of any changes you have made to make your wedding venue COVID Secure as soon as possible. Provide training as necessary and appropriate written and verbal guidance. Work together and be open to their feedback. Well placed signage will help serve as a reminder to procedures. Consider additional language, cultural and physical needs.
- Guest Communication – Ensure that all guests visiting your venue have information in advance explaining your social distancing, PPE and hygiene policies. Reassure them that you will do your utmost to keep them safe and that your wedding venue is COVID Secure. Provide well placed signage. Consider additional language, cultural and physical needs.
- Contracts – Examine the terms of your contracts and ensure they are up to date including your cancellation policy and any changes to your other policies including contact tracing and statement of health requirements. With so many events cancelled and postponed, clients will want reassurance that they don’t stand to lose money in the event of another lockdown. This will also stand as further evidence of your due diligence in ensuring their safety.
- Venue Cleaning and Disinfection – Make sure your venue is cleaned before, after and during the event. Schedule regular cleaning procedures throughout the event and document a detailed disinfection regime before and after each event. Public Health England gives further advice5.
- Venue Capacity – Consider your safe capacity for all types of events that you offer whilst observing social distancing guidelines.
- Temperature Checking – Invest in a temperature gun that can read staff and guests temperatures on arrival. A high temperature of 38ºC or above is a symptom of COVID 19.
- Social Distancing – Consider all guest and staff routes around your venue. Put in place one-way systems using floor markers, stanchions and other furniture. Consider all entrance and exit routes and ensure all staff and guests can observe social distancing safely and securely.
- Personal Hygiene (Staff) – Document a detailed personal hygiene regimen for all staff including regular hand washing. Provide hand sanitisation stations and hand washing facilities. Provide all necessary PPE equipment and instructions on how to use it. Limit unnecessary contact with potential contaminants.
- Personal Hygiene (Guests) – Provide hand washing facilities and hand sanitiser as well as signage to remind guests to regularly clean their hands. Consider providing face masks and other PPE equipment. Limit unnecessary contact with potential contaminants.
- Food Service – Avoid all self-service of food and drink. Wherever possible, provide staff to serve pre-plated food and drinks.
- Track and Trace – Ask the event organiser to provide an advance guest list including name and contact details of all participants. Check these details with guests on arrival and retain for 21 days so that you can notify them in the event of a subsequent COVID outbreak. All contact details should be destroyed three weeks after the event.
- Review – Regularly review all your policies and procedures. Discuss with staff and clients after each event and ask for their feedback.
- Stay Flexible – The situation is constantly changing. Stay up-to-date with the latest guidance and advice and be prepared to adapt and alter your policies and procedures to keep your wedding venue COVID Secure.
- Event Suppliers – Ensure you have notified them of any relevant changes to your policies and procedures and review theirs to ensure they are COVID Secure.
- Contingency – Are you prepared for another lockdown? Many businesses were unprepared for the lockdown in March. As restrictions ease, temporary localised lockdowns may occur. What procedures can you put in place now to prepare for this scenario?
This is by no means a complete or exhaustive list but based on my own judgement, reading, research and experience. Hopefully more guidance will be provided by the Government if and when restrictions ease further(!). The policies and procedures you need to put in place will be specific to your venue and the type of service and events you offer. Now more than ever it is good to talk. Speak to your colleagues across the industry. What are their plans? What measures are they implementing to make their wedding venue COVID Secure? How are they intending to re-open safely? We are all in this together so let’s help one another.
If you would like any further advice or support then I am available to help. Please do get in touch.