As the United States continues to plan for its reopening post the COVID-19 pandemic crisis of early 2020, events of all scales and sizes from the small gathering of a handful of people to larger stadium-sized gatherings of thousands of people are a big part of the US economy. Data sourced from the Events Industry Council in their 2016 US economic significance study indicated there were 5.9m jobs with $249b of labor income generated from them, $104b of taxes at all levels and $446b towards US gross domestic product. Since the 2020 study is not yet available, 2016 was the most recent to review these statistics. However, it has been noted in the infographic presented within this article that there has been an historical upward trend with each study conducted since 2009 in direct spending within the events industry in the U.S. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority also sponsored and published their own economic study which further documents this statement with information dating from 2018 (study conducted in 2019). With the significance of the events industry playing their role in the US economy (federal, state and municipal), it is certainly in the best interests of all for the events industry to reopen at soon as it is safe to do so. This article is written in a way to attempt to speak to gatherings of all sizes as far as recommended practices for workers and companies alike to consider undertaking for their own sponsored event or event to be worked.
One unanticipated side effect of the pandemic and shelter-in-place orders has been a significant decrease in crime. Law enforcement leaders throughout the country report crime rates well below the norm. Thankfully, active-shooter events have significantly declined during the pandemic as well. While unconfirmed statistics show over 120 “mass-shootings” (defined as a shooting resulting in multiple victims) in 2020 to-date, as little as one event can be termed as an “active-shooter” (Milwaukee). While further analysis is needed, it is reasonable to conclude this downward trend has its roots in the temporary elimination of mass-gathering events and locations such as shopping centers, conferences, concerts and so forth.
Government leaders have recently begun to ease shelter-in-place orders. Shopping centers and other locations and events that host large crowds will eventually follow suit. There are three additional dynamics at play they should cause concern for safety: The first is the economy. The national unemployment rate has skyrocketed amid uncertain economic times for the foreseeable future. Employment loss, the associated economic pressures and feeling of hopelessness can cause some to resort to violence. Secondly, society in-general has been under prolonged stress, which adds another layer of frustration. Lastly, the mass wearing of masks in public is now normalized and will continue to be until the pandemic subsides. Until recently, the wearing of masks in public, unless there was an obvious medical condition, when celebrating Halloween or for religious purposes, communicated a vastly different message than today. Before pandemic, an individual entering a convenience store or mall on a Friday night while wearing a mask may have been viewed as suspicious activity resulting in a call to police. Today, the vast majority of people in public are wearing masks.
While uncertain times remain ahead, there are a few commonsense predictions that can be made: There will be an escalation in crime post pandemic, including active-threat events. Masks, and in most cases justifiably so, will continue to be worn by large groups of people attending public and private events. Societal stress, mass lay-offs, frustration and a feeling of hopelessness will cause some people to commit acts of violence. Active-shooter/threat situations evolve quickly and survival relies heavily on reaction time based on initial detection. It is reasonable to conclude some people may feel empowered to commit such hideous acts because they can wear a mask in public and perhaps escape unidentified. Many active-threats occur in the workplace. Depending on the physical characteristics of the disgruntled employee (or ex), it may become easier for them to slip in undetected by wearing a mask.
There is no guarantee that can be made for an illness-free and safe event but taking precautions and having security mitigation strategies in-place such as the examples provided below help towards maximizing attendee and staff safety.
Top 11 Event Safety Practices to Undertake (in no specific order)
There are of course much more detail and thought that needs to go into each of the elements to ensure a successful event is had however practicing each of these will help minimize your risk. The involvement in-depth as well as the quantity of professional security personnel to be involved in an event for monitoring and enforcement of new policies and regulations will be paramount towards the goals of a successful event. Ensure you are working with a partner who has collaboration and understanding of your needs top of mind.
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