5 tips for COVID-safe event hosting

Show you care for your community by preventing the spread of COVID-19 and other airborne illnesses by implementing the following tips the next time you organize an event. 

1. Provide a virtual option

No matter how accessible you attempt to make an in-person event, the requirement for folks to travel to a venue in order to participate will create barriers. Providing a virtual option—whether hosting your event totally online, running a hybrid event, or through messaging and follow up online—will always be the most inclusive way to run an event. This is a lesson learned from the pandemic that your organization can carry forward to support your disabled, immunocompromised and otherwise burdened community members.

If an attendee is feeling unwell, providing a way for them to participate virtually reduces the risk of exposure for in person attendees and allows them to save time and rest without missing out on your event.

2. Host outdoors

Outdoor events are safer than indoor ones because they provide the most effective form of air flow to prevent the airborne virus from accumulating, thereby reducing the risk of disease transmission. 

3. Provide high-quality masks on entry

Providing masks rather than requiring guests bring their own removes the burden of sourcing and paying for a mask from your attendees. For guidance on which masks to provide, check out our mask guide. Provide high-quality masks to staff, too.

4. Keep indoor air clean and flowing

Confirm with venue operators that their indoor spaces have the ventilation and/or air treatment needed to ensure that airborne viruses won’t accumulate in meeting rooms, and request written confirmation that ventilation systems are regularly tested to ensure they are working properly. Consider visiting the venue before booking to test CO2 levels when meeting rooms are in operation. CO2 monitors, which can be used to gauge how well an indoor space is ventilated, can be purchased online, at major retailers such as Canadian Tire, or borrowed from certain libraries (including from Halifax Public Libraries). Where ventilation is inadequate, consider providing air purifiers (for example, Corsi-Rosenthal boxes) to minimize risk for attendees. 

For additional details, how-tos and fun graphics check out this post by Canadian HVAC engineer Joey Fox

5. Test your team and have a contingency plan in case there is an exposure

Contact tracing is a difficult task that was used early on in the pandemic at the provincial level, but fortunately in a smaller-scale event is more easily implemented and can be a great way to help others protect their families in the event they were exposed by providing early warning so that they may isolate from vulnerable family members. Collect attendees' email addresses and ask that they notify you of any illness experienced up to two weeks after your event.

Requiring negative COVID-19 tests for anyone working your event promotes a safer working environment for staff. 

Originally published 13 May 2023. Last updated 13 May 2023.