How to take your events outdoors

MD of Gazeboshop explains how to make the most of outdoor facilities and comply with social distancing.

Still from The Sound of Music (dir. Robert Wise, 1965)
Still from The Sound of Music (dir. Robert Wise, 1965)

While it is unlikely that many physical events will be permitted to take place over the next three months, it seems likely that venues with outdoor facilities will be some of the first to host events in the near future. 

Luigi Pannozzo, managing director of event shelter specialist Gazeboshop, believes outdoor spaces will have a key role in reopening the economy and wider society, given the lower risk posed by people meeting in the open air. 

"These venues will be crucial to lifting the industry from its knees and begin turning the wheels of the economy once again, and as such we must understand how to prepare for this eventuality," says Pannozzo.

Here are his tips on how to take your events outdoors.

Understand the legal regulations

"Planning an outdoor event comes with its own unique set of challenges at the best of times, but in today’s climate it is particularly difficult," says Pannozzo. "The safety of your attendees and staff is paramount and planning should begin months in advance to ensure that all the right precautions are taken.

"An advisable first step is to seek out specialist advice to be fully aware of all the legal regulations that apply to outdoor events. 

"Both the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 include specific rules on protecting health and safety at outdoor events, so make sure you are fully aware of these."

Carry out risk assessments

"You will need to carry out a risk assessment to identify all the potential risks of hosting dozens, if not hundreds of people in the same space," says Panozzo. "Some of these risks will surround food safety and fire safety, but others will be tied specifically to reducing the risk of COVID-19.

"This risk assessment will translate into a safety plan, which includes your strategies for minimising all potential risks and contingencies if things go wrong. For example, you will need to source the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for all staff at the event, particularly for those in front-of-house. It may also be necessary to include temperature checks on arrival and provide hand sanitiser points. 

"The government should provide more clarity on this in the coming months, so make time to read through their guidelines."

Organise the space

"It is also important to utilise the outdoor space to its fullest potential," explains Panozzo. "Organise stands in a way that maximises the space while maintaining a safe environment for the attendees. 

"Ensure there is plenty of cover from the sun (or more likely rain in Britain!) to keep staff and attendees comfortable, with food and refreshments on hand. 

"If the outdoor venue is on a balcony or rooftop, make sure to frame rather than block the view." 

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