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Should our own staff be taking event attendees temperatures or do we outsource?

April 13, 2021
Reading time: 4 min

This is Part 4 of a series of posts where we will be sharing transcripts from our "Looking Forward" webinar featuring Legalease With the Ladies- powered by HopSkip.

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Should our own staff be taking event attendees temperatures or do we need to outsource that?

Barbara Dunn:

My answer to that question is no. You know, if you are going to have rules of the road of all the things that we've mentioned thus far, you don't want staff or volunteers or your board members enforcing those rules. You've got to think about that, and you've got to budget for that. I think one effective strategy is to consider having security folks professionally dressed be able to approach someone in a respectful manner and remind them to pull up their mask or remind them to socially distance and the rest, and then if the reminders become multiple then then it's a discussion with the group. You don't want to put your staff in that circumstance.

So, I would definitely think about if you're going to have the code of conduct - again, the “rules of the road” - make sure you know how you're going to enforce it, and make sure you take care of that cost. One common question that's come up a lot, and I think in the chat, is what about employees of the organizer?

The issue is if an employee were to contract the virus, whether that be at their workplace or at a meeting off-site, that is a worker’s comp issue between the employee and the employer. But, you're going to have the same concerns of unwillingness potentially by employees to get the vaccine. And generally speaking, my guidance has been all along and those of our labor employment folks is: don't force an employee to come into the office or to show up at the meeting if you don't need to. I think that's the respectful flexibility that we're going to have for a little while, so I think that point is clear. But really, be careful on-site and you know, the point is to manage it, you've got to manage it on the ground. If you're going to have a rule, you've got to follow it. Folks are looking.

We all have a video camera and a photograph right in our hand. So, you know folks are going to pay attention if we're not enforcing mask requirements, and that’s not the major issue of course. The major issue is you don't want to become a super spreader event. I've had a number of nonprofits that are in the healthcare arena and they have raised “that we have to be the model” or “we have to show how this is done.” “We don't want to have this headline used against us.”

Lisa, I know you and I have talked a lot about this issue, as well as enforcement, and I'm sure as well on the hotel side it's frustrating if a group isn't enforcing rules, and maybe that's disrespectful or harmful potentially to the hotel staff.

Lisa Sommer Devlin:

You're right we've already seen things online where we've seen meetings where people are sitting there having a cocktail with their mask dangling and people have been shamed for that kind of thing. I completely agree with Barbara. Whichever perspective it is, where it’s the hotel or group side, it should be third parties that are enforcing these kinds of things, that are doing the temperature checks (if you think that's appropriate) and enforcing the mask and distancing rules. As you all know, it's sometimes easier to say, hey, it wasn't my decision. You know the boss said I had to do it.” The same is true in this analysis. If you say, “look, we have hired this third party company and their job is to enforce safety rules and we have to defer to what they say so if they say you have to put your mask on or they say you have to step aside, that's a lot easier than having a volunteer or a colleague that may know the attendees say, “hey, pull your mask up.” So, I think that that's a good way to do it.

I know that my hotel clients are very challenged in this arena, especially in the area of weddings, because weddings are some of the first things that are really coming back because people have been frustrated. So, they're having a wedding, and they have all these rules about social distancing or dancing or wearing masks. And soon, everybody in the event has had a couple of drinks and they're ignoring everything. And it's a really tough situation to be in for you as the hotel to have to try and enforce these rules. Or do you just put up signs saying you know dancing must be 6 feet apart so that you can show that you tried to tell people and that you couldn't control them? And again, remember underlying this whole thing is all the politics that people feel. And I'm using politics in a broad sense. The politics that people are feeling about this entire situation and so you can get into arguments, problems, etc. and that that can be very difficult. Which is why I think the third-party approach is a very good way to handle it.

Barbara Dunn:

I’d be remiss for not mentioning this. You must consider amending your crisis management plan to address a COVID outbreak or a potential COVID outbreak on-site. How are you going to manage it? So, if you haven't done that already or if you don't have a crisis management plan, now is a great opportunity to do that. I know a lot of our industry folks and organizations have good resources out there but run the drill. What would you do on site? That is critically important, particularly if you're dealing with a circumstance like this.

Lisa Sommer Devlin:

You're never going to be able to prove where somebody got it. Yes, there are super spreader events, but when you have people coming from all over the country, you're never going to be able to prove for sure how it did or how it didn't happen, but if you can prove that you had a crisis management plan, that you have these steps in place and that you did everything that you possibly could that was reasonable, then you're going to be protecting yourself. And that applies again to both the hotel side and the customer side.


This post is a multi part series where we will be sharing the  questions and answers that were originally generated from HopSkip's recent "Looking Forward Webinar" featuring Legalease With the Ladies.  You can download the recorded webinar here.


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