When you’re travelling in a pandemic during Europe’s Fourth Wave, you’ve got to expect that things aren’t always going to go as planned…
The last time you heard from me I was on a train headed towards Paris from the South of France with no idea what the 15th letter of the Greek Alphabet was (aka omicron). This time, last week, I was contemplating my travel northward further into major covid-19 outbreak areas of Northern Europe. Was this Travel Recovery, Travel Revenge or travel foolish? I had events that I needed to attend, however, one in London and one in Berlin. Two major conferences but within days of arriving in London, only one would be going ahead.
Is it possible to meet, mix and mingle safely at a large indoor event? I think so, but nothing is ever 100% safe or guaranteed when human behaviour enters the equation. In the past 2 months I’ve attended 4 business events ranging from less than 100 attendees to over a thousand. I’ve noticed things that worked from a safety perspective, like requiring proof of vaccine status, prepackaged meal delivery, and mandatory mask wearing, to things that made me downright leary – basically the opposite of the above.
So here are my own tips for meeting, mixing, mingling and even travelling in tight spaces with many people.
4 Tips For Attending Large Events
– Take a lateral flow or antigen test 24 hours ahead of time, and then again 48 or 72 hours after the event. With about 1 in 3 people with Covid-19 not having symptoms, it is important that you do this before and after coming into contact with a large number of people.
– Wear a medical-grade mask, or a high-quality cloth mask fitted with a filter. A report published in the medical journal The Lancet, which analysed data from 172 studies in 16 countries, found that by wearing a face mask there is just a 3% chance of catching COVID-19. In close quarters with people whose vaccine or testing status was known to me or when speaking to someone face to face, wearing a face mask felt sensible and gave me a sense of protection. Not just from this coronavirus but from many viruses.
– Limit your food and drink. Be vigilant of where you are eating at events, with this being the only time that you have your mask off for a prolonged period. If the weather allows it, eat outside. If you have to eat inside, try and maintain social distance from those around.
– If you’re an event planner, consider all the above: making testing or vaccination mandatory for entry, enforce mask use, serve meal options that are safe and in a way people can still maintain social distance. Clearly and frequently explain your COVID-19 regulations to attendees, before and during the event.
These tips shouldn’t come as a surprise, we’ve all been doing this for a while. But with pandemic fatigue setting in, omicron vying to become the dominant strain and the festive season upon us, staying healthy and safe should continue to remain a top priority.
Three Countries Down, But Now What?
In a few days time, I should be on a plane to Berlin. But with cases ever increasing in Germany and omicron taking front and centre in the news, GBTA Europe – an event I had planned to attend – has been postponed to Q1 2022. A sign of more things to come?
Cancelling flights, hotels, trains and readjusting travel plans can be a nightmare, even at the best of times (aka 2019). My Berlin plans may have been dashed, but how I easily and almost painless changed my itinerary at short notice is a winner. My travel hack for not losing my cool when my travel plans took a turn for the worse? You’ll have to tune in next week to find out.
Suzanne Sangiovese is Riskline’s Commercial and Communications Director.