As the state of Rhode Island reopens and residents return to some sense of normalcy in their personal and professional lives, we are so excited to get back to business at CoLab and to gather with our valued members and local community once again! We've missed hosting events in our waterfront venue, and we've missed seeing the joy spread between family, friends, and colleagues. Whether you are planning an intimate gathering for family and friends or a larger event to celebrate your team, we've compiled some tips for hosting a safe meeting or event during COVID-19 utilizing guidance from the state and the CDC.

Create SOPs for Health & Safety

In the world of COVID-19, standard operating procedures (SOPs) that prioritize health and safety are critical - even for social events. A few SOPs that have been widely recommended are hand washing, social distancing (whenever possible, if not possible encourage personal protective equipment (PPE)), surface disinfecting, and limiting restroom occupancy.

Careful Venue Selection

The CDC guidelines are being updated regularly as COVID-19 recovery develops across the country. It's important to follow the latest event capacity guidelines developed by the state and CDC.  Be sure your event venue has sufficient space to accommodate your guests while adhering to social distancing recommendations and is adhering to guidelines regarding cleaning and disinfecting.

Get Creative with Setup and Food

Once you've selected the ideal venue, you'll want to think about setup, seating arrangements, and food. Event layouts during COVID-19 will look different, but that's not necessarily a bad thing as it could just lead to fun and creative solutions.

If you are serving food, avoid self-serve stations or displays to limit communal interaction and multiple food handling. Centralize service or provide individually packaged food and beverages to limit the opportunity for contamination. A few creative solutions we've seen recently are boxed lunches for meetings and buffets or stations where staff serves guests individually.

Communication is Key

Ultimately, plans and procedures for an event are not useful unless they are effectively communicated pre-event to both employees and guests. Signage is useful to encourage social distancing and effective ways to wear PPE. It also may be worthwhile to include spacing markers at spots like buffet lines and restroom lines.

Adjust Event Timelines

Timelines are critical for any event, but especially during COVID-19. The CDC recommends using creative timelines - you can stagger guest arrivals with a ticketed arrival time to ensure less occupancy at the venue and plenty of space for social distancing. Be sure to communicate the importance of arrival times to your guests due to the enhanced safety measures.

Consider Hybrid Event Solutions

Not everyone is going to be comfortable with events right away, and that's okay. One solution many companies have been adopting is a hybrid model for their meetings and conferences. With this solution, those who are able and comfortable can attend in person, and those who are not can participate virtually. Many companies are integrating their events with mobile applications so they can engage all attendees digitally, which not only supports the hybrid option, but also eliminates the need for paper and possible contaminants on-site, as everyone is utilizing their own devices to access content.

How CoLab Will Keep Your Events and Meetings Safe

At CoLab, our waterfront event room in Pawtuxet Village is currently available for rent and the safety of our guests and staff is of the utmost importance. To ensure we are operating safely with health in mind, we have incorporated expert certifications while crafting our standard operating procedures for post COVID-19 events. The SOPs are updated as guidelines in our area change, and they focus on promoting an environment that prioritizes cleanliness and sanitation, engaging employees in daily health checks, and placing emphasis on prudent event operations.

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