We spoke to the planner of Prevue’s Inspired Events Summit, being held May 2-3 in Palm Beach, Barbara Scofidio, and the founder of our health and safety provider for the event, Becky Fox, founder of Vital Circle, about safety protocols in this new stage of COVID-19.
Prevue: What are some of the most common requests you are getting from event organizers? Testing? Vaccine verification? Masking? Health checks?
Fox: We get requests for all of the above. The dynamics tend to change based on the location of the event, where the attendees are coming from, and sometimes the venue itself, which may have its own rules that must be adhered to. For example, if the event is being held outdoors, they don’t need as many risk management services, but if it’s a large event being held indoors, they need to do more in terms of risk mitigation.
Discussion points that come up regularly involve everything from pre-event testing, on-site testing, clinical support, even just a consult on what protocols to take if someone tests positive for COVID while on site.
Prevue: What made you introduce testing for Prevue’s Summits for the first time?
Scofidio: We are still requiring vaccination, but we realize that attendees’ vaccines are going to be at various stages of efficacy. Some attendees who are over 50 or have pre-existing conditions might already have had a second booster while others might have opted not to boost at all and have waning immunity if they got their original vaccines last year. Testing protects everyone.
Prevue: How are you ensuring that people test?
Scofidio: Vital Circle mailed out antigen test kits to all of our attendees about two weeks before the event, with instructions. The accompanying letter and follow-up emails explain that we are requiring all attendees to test 24 hours before the event start, and show them how to submit the results through a dedicated link. They are asked to provide their “name, date of test, time test performed, and time test resulted on a piece of paper and include that in the image they submit. All images should be clear, with Live Photo/Motion Photo features turned off.” It’s all very clear. We also will have test kits on site and a dedicated room for testing, if someone shows up who has not followed the directions.
Prevue: Have you had any resistance to the safety protocols you put in place?
Scofidio: At this point, it’s becoming standard operating procedure to follow whatever is determined for whatever meeting you attend in whatever industry. We did have a videographer we wanted to use who refused to show proof of vaccine or to test, so we didn’t hire him.
Every event has its own requirements and is using this tech or that; Vital Circle uses a web-enabled application while I have attended other meetings using CLEAR, proprietary apps, etc. We’re doing daily health checks, where people have to answer a series of questions and get a temp check, other meetings aren’t. People are very cooperative and I don’t see these safety requirements going away any time soon so they might as well be!
Prevue: Have you seen any changes in what event organizers are doing for COVID since Omicron?
Fox: The biggest change we’re seeing is an increase in demand for testing. Even people who have been vaccinated and boosted can get a breakthrough case, so the safest thing you as an event organizer can do is to ensure everyone is tested before they come to an event, especially for events that have a large number of people coming in from across the U.S. or even internationally. Our number-one request right now is to provide tests, like we’re doing for Prevue, so people can take it at home before they leave for the event to screen out those who may, even unbeknownst to themselves, be positive for COVID.
The main thing clients want is for everyone to feel as safe as possible coming to the event because they know that everyone was vaccinated and/or tested. There’s always a risk any time anyone ventures out into the world, but they can feel safer knowing that the event organizers have put risk mitigation initiatives in place and are keeping their safety top of mind.