Eventbrite’s COVID-19 Safety Playbook for Events
Before launching in-person experiences again, you will need to consider all applicable health and safety risks. This is a resource for you to reference when determining what risks may apply to your event and how to address them.
Date published/May 20, 2021
This playbook should help you:
Before relaunching in-person experiences, you will need to thoughtfully consider potential safety and security risks for your events. Many factors can influence an event’s risk profile, including the venue's location, the purpose of the event, and the attendees. Today, we want to provide you with resources as you work to address the threat of COVID-19 and manage the risk of transmission. Following the expertise of health officials and regulators, you'll need to adopt new policies and procedures to help minimize physical contact and maximize the health and well-being of attendees. This playbook assumes there are no mandatory prohibitions affecting your event or gathering.
You should assume that during a global pandemic, attendees and staff members could transmit the virus. Because of this potential transmission risk, it's crucial to take appropriate safety and risk management measures and to clearly communicate requirements and responsibilities to staff and attendees. (Please note: per CDC guidance, vaccinated people have a reduced risk of transmission).
To provide resources for you to reference during your planning process, we've partnered with risk management and health experts at the Chertoff Group, including Senior Advisor, Dr. Jeff Runge, who was responsible for pandemic planning at the US Department of Homeland Security while serving as its chief medical officer. This work is informed by published guidance provided by the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. For more resources to review, please see the list at the end of this playbook.
Notice: This Playbook and accompanying materials are provided for general information only and are not medical, legal, or professional advice. You are solely responsible for assessing and implementing the appropriate safety and security measures to be taken at your event(s) (including whether practices other than those discussed may be appropriate), and for assuring compliance with all applicable laws, regulations, and orders. Both Eventbrite and Chertoff Group, LLC expressly disclaim liability for any loss or damage that results from any application of, or reliance upon, anything in this document by you, your agents, or your guests. Please consult your legal counsel, insurance advisor, and other professionals for tailored advice on your legal obligations and how to mitigate risk at your events.
Eventbrite has prepared these materials with information that it believes is current as of the date listed. Guidelines and information about the virus continue to change regularly. You should review the most up-to-date resources and applicable local laws, regulations, and orders on a regular basis leading up to your event, which should take precedence over any of the general information presented in this guide. Eventbrite disclaims any duty to update this guide.
This playbook outlines
a four-stage safety process to:
Assess your risks and mitigation potential
This section will help you identify inherent risks and other factors that may affect your event, as well as understand the mitigation options that may help to reduce COVID-19 transmission risk.
Creators have a responsibility for the wellbeing of their staff and attendees at their event. It’s important to recognize the threat COVID-19 poses and determine the level of risk of transmission at your event.
To make a risk-based decision to host, postpone, or modify a future event, you should complete a risk assessment to consider risk factors, safety steps, and residual risk, and update this assessment with new information and guidance regularly as your event approaches.
While the risk of transmission can’t be eliminated, only managed, this process helps you to make informed decisions about risk acceptance for your event.
Before you begin, it's important to understand the following terms:
These are the inherent and specific aspects of your event that may increase transmission risk for attendees. These could include things like the number of people attending or how many attendees are in a high-risk group, such as unvaccinated individuals 65 or older or unvaccinated individuals with pre-existing medical conditions. Other attributes could also be considered risk factors, like your event location, the purpose of the event, or whether your event is held indoors or outdoors.
These are industry- and government-recognized options for mitigating the identified risks at your event. They can include implementing policies such as requiring face coverings, asking attendees to self-certify that they have not recently received a positive COVID-19 test, and have not knowingly been exposed to an individual who has recently tested positive for COVID-19, choosing to have hygiene requirements for event attendees and staff or reducing the capacity of your event. (Please note: You should follow current public health guidance related to face coverings. Although new federal guidance from the CDC relaxed face covering guidelines, some states and localities may continue to require the use of face coverings in certain settings.)
This is the risk that remains after you've implemented mitigation steps. Some event risks can be managed and reduced, but some can't. For this assessment exercise, consider assigning “High,” “Medium,” “Low,” or “Not Applicable” values to each of the risk factors identified.
•A High residual risk score means that there are risk factors that greatly increase the risk of transmission at your event, but that there is little to nothing you can do to reduce the inherent risk at your event.
•A Medium residual risk score means that there are risk factors that increase the risk of transmission at your event, but there are mitigation measures you can take to reduce the inherent risk at your event.
• A Low residual risk score means that you have determined that any risk factors should not increase the risk of transmission at your event (or that they should only increase the risk incrementally) OR that there are mitigation steps that can effectively reduce the risk factor to this threshold.
The decision to accept the residual risks after mitigation steps are in place is called risk acceptance. If you complete the risk assessment with one or more “High” and/or two or more “Medium” residual risks, consider whether you should postpone, delay, or change your event format (for example, pivoting to a virtual event). Even if an event does not meet these criteria, you might still consider postponing, delaying, or changing your event format, depending on the circumstances.
The FDA and CDC have attested to the safety and effectiveness of approved COVID-19 vaccines, which offer substantial protection against infection, hospitalization, and death from the COVID-19 virus. Widespread vaccine adoption is expected to be critical to reducing the community prevalence of COVID-19, which will eventually enable larger public gatherings to take place with lower risk to event goers. In the meantime, event creators are considering whether and to what extent to use verification of vaccine status of attendees to increase the safety of their event. Some creators may ask attendees to self-certify their vaccine status and require unvaccinated attendees wear masks, socially distance and/or sit in special sections, while others may require proof of vaccine or a negative Covid test for entry. The landscape and laws surrounding vaccine verifications are evolving and location specific. For more information on how vaccinations are impacting event planning, check out this blog.
Ready to complete the risk assessment and mitigation exercise?
Identify, reduce, and measure risk at your event in three easy stages.
You’ve identified the risks — now it’s time to implement safety steps at your event.
Implement safety steps
This section should help you take steps to prevent or manage risks at your event.
Now that you've worked out what level of risk acceptance you are comfortable with for your event, it's time to put the safety steps you identified into action. Remember, if you completed the risk assessment and determined that you have one or more “high” and/or two or more “medium” residual risks, consider whether you should postpone or delay your event or move it online. Review local rules and regulations to determine whether the presence of these risk factors requires you to change your event format. At this stage, it's helpful to think about how you can prepare for and respond to risks before, during, and after your event.
All events should implement each of the basic steps outlined below regardless of the event type. Reference your completed risk assessment for the specific safety steps to follow based on your event's unique characteristics. Complete your safety checklist to capture and confirm which safety and security measures you have considered and selected to use at your event.
The steps below are general recommendations to help guide you. You should also get up-to-date information about how COVID-19 is affecting your region, recommendations and restrictions from local authorities and public health officials, WHO and/or the CDC (depending on your event’s location). Please note that where there is divergence in guidance between the CDC and your state or local area, state and local guidance should be followed. Where there is divergence between state and local guidance, event creators should adhere to any mandates in place. Review this information regularly in the time leading up to your event. When in doubt, contact local officials for additional guidance.
Review and implement these safety steps:
Basic steps you should take during the COVID-19 outbreak:
•Seek advice from and collaborate with local authorities and public health officials for current COVID-19 restrictions and recommendations. Consider inquiring about the presence of new COVID-19 variants circulating in the community and what is known about them.
•Provide resources that detail the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 to help educate potential attendees and staff on whether they should attend or stay home.
•Require staff and event-goers to stay home if they have any COVID-19 symptoms, including sudden loss of taste or smell and/or fever. Additionally, require event-goers to refrain from coming if they have been recently diagnosed with COVID-19, have recently had direct contact with an individual diagnosed with or suspected to have COVID-19, or are displaying symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19. Offer a flexible refund policy to encourage attendees to comply with these rules. Encourage them to review the latest CDC guidance on when to quarantine.
•Provide access to hand washing stations with soap and water. If you’re unable to provide hand washing stations, provide hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
•Provide instructions on proper handwashing at handwashing stations that direct attendees to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds in accordance with CDC/WHO guidelines.
•Create an event-specific medical response plan that designates responsible persons and nearby emergency services. Determine how to isolate and transport staff or attendees experiencing a medical emergency. Develop an event safety plan for quickly evacuating if necessary.
•Determine event capacity based on the size and floorplan of your venue. Pay attention to factors like ventilation, the presence of UV or HEPA air filters in the building or venue, and how many attendees can be accommodated while properly adhering to physical distancing guidelines.
•Modify attendee or staff density to enforce all safety protocols, including six-foot (two-meter) physical distancing guidelines in all venue spaces where attendees congregate. This could include restrooms, areas where there are lines, and the entrance and exit. Consider temporary modifications to your space to help guests easily distance, like closing adjacent sink stations, metering bathroom usage, creating marked-off lines for entering and exiting the venue, and modifying seating and standing arrangements.
•Designate one or more staff members to enforce physical distancing guidelines and face-covering requirements throughout the event. (Please note: You should follow current public health guidance related to face coverings. Although new federal guidance from the CDC relaxed face covering guidelines, some states and localities may continue to require the use of face coverings in certain settings.)
•Require all attendees and staff to wear CDC/WHO-recommended face coverings during the event. (Please note: You should follow current public health guidance related to face coverings. Although new federal guidance from the CDC relaxed face covering guidelines, some states and localities may continue to require the use of face coverings in certain settings.)
•Assign staff cleaning tasks to be performed before, during, and after the event. Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, toilets, faucets, and sinks before the event using CDC and/or WHO cleaning and disinfecting guidelines.
•For events with multiple shifts, showtimes, or events, clean and disinfect common spaces between each group of people. Be sure to provide enough time between groups to allow for cleaning and disinfection of commonly touched surfaces.
Measures you should implement before your event:
•Clean surfaces with soap and water before using an approved household disinfectant. Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, toilets, faucets, sinks, or items distributed to attendees before the event using CDC and/or WHO cleaning and disinfecting guidelines.
•Provide attendees with resources that detail the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 to help educate them on whether they should attend or stay home.
•Require staff and event-goers to stay home if they have recently experienced COVID-19 symptoms, have recently been diagnosed with COVID-19, or have recently had contact with a known or suspected COVID-19 case.
•Consider flexible refund policies and clearly communicate them to your attendees.
•Create an event safety plan to respond to medical emergencies or predictable natural and man-made threats and hazards like security incidents, fires, or weather emergencies.
•Identify the closest hospital or health center in case of an emergency.
•Staff and/or supply a first aid station for minor injuries or sick attendees.
•Plan to have a location to isolate attendees or staff who show symptoms of COVID-19.
•Plan to minimize person-to-person contact for event organizers and staff during the planning process.
•Maintain up-to-date contact information for staff and venue operators to communicate changing information about COVID-19.
•Create signage outlining the need for face coverings, physical distancing guidelines, and other COVID-19 specific procedures. Ensure that any messaging surrounding COVID-19 recognizes and addresses cultural, language, and disability barriers. (Please note: You should follow current public health guidance related to face coverings. Although new federal guidance from the CDC relaxed face covering guidelines, some states and localities may continue to require the use of face coverings in certain settings.)
•Establish virtual participation options for sick or high-risk individuals.
•Create a plan for contacting attendees after the event in case you need to notify them of exposure to COVID-19.
Measures you should implement during your event
•Provide access to handwashing stations with soap and water or hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol if the former is unavailable. Require attendees to use hand sanitizer or wash hands upon entering and exiting your venue, exiting bathrooms, after disposing of waste, and after consuming food.
•Provide instructions on proper handwashing at handwashing stations. In accordance with CDC/WHO guidance, hands should be washed for at least 20 seconds.
•Remind attendees not to touch their eyes, nose, or mouth.
•Remind event-goers not to touch their eyes, nose, or mouth.
•Ask attendees to cover their nose and mouth with an approved face covering when around others. Unless stated otherwise by local regulations, exceptions are for children under two, persons with breathing issues, or someone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or unable to remove their face cover independently. (Please note: You should follow current public health guidance related to face coverings. Although new federal guidance from the CDC relaxed face covering guidelines, some states and localities may continue to require the use of face coverings in certain settings.)
•Per physical distancing guidelines, attendees should stay at least six feet from one another, even if they are wearing face coverings.
•Provide culturally appropriate messages and materials to prevent certain common actions like handshakes or high-fives that could facilitate the spread of COVID-19.
•When not wearing a recommended face covering, event-goers should cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow, not touch their face, and then wash their hands.
•Screen attendees for COVID-19 symptoms where possible. Require individuals who report COVID-19 symptoms during the pre-entry symptom check to leave the event and seek medical advice. You should then review reporting requirements and re-assess the risk of continuing the event.
•If an attendee displays symptoms, separate them from others until they can go home. Contact local health officials, communicate potential exposure to staff and event-goers, and clean and disinfect the event space.
•Designate a location to isolate attendees or staff who demonstrate signs or symptoms of COVID-19. Assign a staff member the responsibility of responding to concerns about ill attendees.
Measures you should implement after your event
•If an attendee displayed symptoms at the event or reports a COVID-19 diagnosis after the event, communicate potential exposure to the venue owner (if applicable), public health officials, staff, and all other attendees, and clean and disinfect the event space.
•Clean surfaces with soap and water before using an approved household disinfectant. Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, toilets, faucets, and sinks after the event using CDC and/or WHO cleaning and disinfecting guidelines.
•Clean and disinfect surfaces and spaces between events, including between groups of people at events that have multiple shifts, acts, or showings.
Complete your safety checklist to determine which safety and security measures are in place at your event.
You’ve implemented the safety steps - now it’s time to communicate your policies and procedures
Communicate your policies and procedures
This section should help you communicate your safety policies and procedures to your staff and attendees.
Put safety first by making it prominent in your written policies and procedures and then clearly communicating this information to your attendees and event staff. Share your policies online on your website and ticket page, in your confirmation email to ticket-buyers, at the door, inside of your event through signage and announcements, and with your staff in a pre-event briefing.
Attendees and staff play a critical role in event safety during a global pandemic. Communicating basic safety requirements and seeking positive affirmation of these requirements, especially around physical distancing and wearing face coverings, are crucial to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Please note: You should follow current public health guidance related to face coverings. Although new federal guidance from the CDC relaxed face covering guidelines, some states and localities may continue to require the use of face coverings in certain settings.)
Considerations for communicating your policies and procedures:
What to communicate
In addition to your policies and procedures, consider sharing your decision-making process, what factors you considered, and what experts or organizations you consulted while making your decisions. No in-person event is risk-free during a pandemic, so consider highlighting the existing uncertainties, what measures are being taken to reduce those risks, and your corresponding refund policy. This is an opportunity to align with ticket buyers and show them you have given these issues consideration and care. It also provides attendees the opportunity to decide whether to accept those risks, take additional precautions when attending, or not attend.
What’s expected of attendees
Attendees have a shared responsibility in event safety. Your communications should include what actions attendees should take to protect themselves and others from COVID-19, like bringing and wearing their own face coverings. A clear list of symptoms that won't be tolerated at the event should include fever and sudden loss of taste or smell. Suggest that high-risk attendees take extra consideration before joining in person. Manage expectations and ask for attendees to be patient and flexible due to the evolving nature of this crisis. Consider requiring attendees to self-certify that they do not have symptoms, have not recently been diagnosed with or had direct contact with a known or suspected COVID-19 case, and will comply with the event’s safety policies and procedures including wearing face coverings, physical distancing guidelines, and other requirements. Let attendees know that any violation of your policies can result in their removal from the event, and potential forfeit of a refund depending on your clearly stated and communicated refund policies. (Please note: You should follow current public health guidance related to face coverings. Although new federal guidance from the CDC relaxed face covering guidelines, some states and localities may continue to require the use of face coverings in certain settings.)
When to communicate
Share this information before someone purchases a ticket such as on your website or ticket listing page, in a confirmation email after they have purchased a ticket, and in later emails or social media posts leading up to the event in the case that there are changes. Communications at the event should remind attendees to comply with your policies to ensure everyone's safety. Once you’ve communicated your safety precautions, it’s important to listen for feedback and concerns before, during, and after your event, and be responsive to your attendees.
Know your audience
Identify and address potential language, cultural, and disability barriers associated with communicating COVID-19 information to event staff and attendees. Information you share should be easily understood by everyone attending the event. Use both signs and audio announcements to communicate event rules.
Use this template, revised as necessary for your specific event and local rules, to communicate with your attendees.
You’ve communicated your policies and procedures. Now put your plan into action.
Use your safety checklist
This section should help you use your safety checklist to prepare for and respond to risks.
Now that you’ve thought through some of the potential risks, considered implementing risk-mitigating steps, and communicated your corresponding policies and procedures, it’s time to put your plan into action. Use this as a guide to capture which safety and security measures are in place and know how you'll respond in the case of an incident. Share your COVID-19 event safety plan with your staff before the event and make sure they are clear on their roles and responsibilities.
Use the safety checklist you created in stage two to confirm that the safety and security measures you have considered and selected are in place at your event. Be sure to re-check local regulations and rules the day before and the day of your event for potential changes.
Guidance for Mass Gatherings
Risk assessment resources
•Operational Toolkit for Businesses Considering Reopening or Expanding Operations in COVID-19 — Johns Hopkins Center for Health
Security Safety Steps & Communication Resources
•Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
•UWhen to Quarantine — CDC
•Best Practices for Retail Food Stores, Restaurants, and Food Pick-Up/Delivery Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic — U.S Food & Drug Administration
About The Chertoff Group
The Chertoff Group is a global advisory firm that combines a Merchant Banking Practice and a Strategic Advisory Services group, both of which are focused on security risk management. The firm advises companies on a variety of business and management areas related to physical, cyber, and supply-chain security.
Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chertoff Group was already working with Eventbrite to develop safety and security guidelines for creators and events of all kinds — so it only made sense for them to partner with us on the Event Safety Playbook. According to Aaron Roth, Managing Director at The Chertoff Group: “Every company and industry has been affected by the pandemic, and there are some industries that have been more acutely affected. The event and entertainment industry is one of those, so that was a natural outgrowth for us.”
The Chertoff Group established a sub-practice in February 2020 that focused on enterprise pandemic response. As the crisis evolved, this practice advised major organizations on their immediate responses. Their work, says Roth, has grown in scope over the past year in response to the changing landscape. “When we first started doing the enterprise pandemic response work, it was more of a crisis management focus; it was helping executives manage the day-to-day operational challenges of this broad organizational shift to a remote work environment. It evolved, as the pandemic evolved, into helping clients navigate the later innings of the pandemic in terms of ‘what does the return to work look like?’ and elements like that.” In working with Eventbrite, Roth explains that experts from the Chertoff Group were “combining very high-level operational and strategic expertise we have at the firm with our research background and…integrating and tracking the latest WHO and CDC guidelines, and state and local guidance as well.”
The Chertoff Group believes in taking a holistic approach to guidance that combines concrete, evergreen advice with forward-looking information that they adapt according to the COVID-19 pandemic's progression. “A lot of the elements of the pandemic are going to last once the virus is more under control,” says Roth, “so we try to be more forward-thinking with our clients in that way.”