Audience safety

 

Under current rules [1], from 1 September 2020 it is possible to hold spectator events with more than 50 people, while observing special arrangements and guidelines [2]. The maximum number of participants in events is not restricted.

“Special arrangements” mean:

  • Limiting the number of people so they can keep a 1–2 m distance
  • Special arrangements for queuing so people can keep a 1–2 m distance
  • Facilities for good hand and cough hygiene
  • Enhanced cleaning
  • Collecting customer data

The national recommendation will be updated when the authorities’ recommendations change.

Orientation of customer service staff

We recommend thoroughly orientating staff who work on premises with and in contact with customers on new guidelines and obtaining their commitment to complying with the security guidelines they have received. You must also make sure that third-party service providers receive the information.

For first aid, you can put face masks and gloves for the first aider and helper in your first aid kits.

Communication with customers

When you communicate clearly with customers both beforehand and at the venue, you create a sense of security.

Beforehand:

The most important way of preventing infection is to stay at home if you have even the slightest symptoms.

  • We recommend telling customers clearly that they cannot come to the event if they are ill.
  • We recommend telling customers that they can exchange their tickets (free of charge) for another evening.

You should tell your customers about the ways you manage queues and large numbers of people, and how you ensure hygiene.

We recommend you tell customers beforehand what to expect:

  • a fixed ticket pickup time and method or a fixed entry time.
  • Information about queuing, hygiene, enhance cleaning and physical distancing increases customers’ trust.
  • You should tell customers clearly if you have stopped accepting cash for hygiene reasons.
  • You can tell customers how you have instructed your staff on hygiene practices, for example, which can help increase a sense of safety.

At the venue:

You are likely to need more staff than before to instruct the audience. A 1–2 m distance must be kept between customers at all times, which must be taken into account:

  • when entering and leaving the auditorium
  • in queues for the cloakroom, bar, toilets, ticket pickup, etc.

You can guide your audience about queuing, physical distancing and hand hygiene with signs, floor stickers and announcements.

If infection is transmitted:

The instructions of the Education and Culture Ministry and the Institute for Health and Welfare says, “to ease contact tracing, event organizers should have information about event attendees, where possible and with adherence to other legislation”. [3]

Most ticket sales systems collect customer contact details automatically, but you can also collect such details (name, telephone number, email address) manually at the door, while complying with data protection legislation.

  • That means that you must, where possible, have customer contact details (take note of group customers too).
  • Take note of the possible extra work needed to collect customer data.
  • Plan communications about a possible infection transmission beforehand: who communicates, who gives statements and in what way.

Hand hygiene

Customers must be able to wash their hands with water and soap and to use hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer must be available as soon as customers enter an indoor space or limited-access outdoor space. Toilets must have disposable paper towels or fabric roll towel machines for hand drying. You must keep an eye on soap levels. You must monitor rubbish bins and empty them when they are three-quarters full. You can also find cleaning instructions on the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health website [4]. You can remind customers of hand hygiene using boards, announcements and videos.

Managing customer flows

The general rule is maintaining a distance of 1–2 m between people, both in the auditorium and elsewhere.

  • You can manage customer flows through floor stickers, queue belt barriers and posts, staff training, announcements, signs and staggering.
  • If possible, you can reduce customers’ contact with each other by dividing them into groups who enter through different doors and use certain bar sections and toilets.

Queues and crowds:

  • You can reduce queues for picking up tickets by recommending mobile tickets, using several pickup points and having customers pick up their tickets earlier or in staggered groups. Pay particular attention to group customers: you can tell them to pick their tickets up earlier, mail them their tickets or ask them to distribute the tickets to the group further away from the cash desk.
  • There must be queuing systems for the toilets. You may need extra staff or to re-assign duties if you need people to manage the toilet queues or the number of toilet users. Pay particular attention to the cleanliness of sanitary spaces. (See: Enhanced cleaning.)
  • There may be queues for the cloakroom. If the fire department allows customers to take their outer clothing into the auditorium, you may consider not offering cloakroom services.
  • If you want to provide a cloakroom, pay attention to: physical distancing in queues, hygienic distance when hanging up coats, keeping the counter clean, tokens (you can disinfect and wash the tokens or have duplicate tokens, leaving one set of tokens to age overnight), and staff safety.
  • If lifts are used a lot in the venue, the lifts must have signs reminding people about physical distancing and not using the lifts in large numbers. If necessary, you can also get your staff to help you direct customers.
  • You can consider various options for selling programmes: not selling them altogether, putting the programme online, selling them using only contactless payment for speed, giving them out free, or possibly selling them in a different location to tickets.
  • Customers should be ready in good time to show their tickets on the door so the queue does not stop. You can put up signs reminding them to do this.
  • You should have people enter and leave the auditorium in a controlled fashion, avoiding crowds. Remember that this will take longer than usual.
  • Methods to achieve this include putting entry times on tickets, opening the doors earlier, queue belt barriers, free seating with staff moving customers around as necessary, and filling in the centre of rows.

In the auditorium:

  • You must maintain physical distance of 1–2 m between people in the auditorium, too.
  • In practice, this means leaving 1–2 empty seats in a row between spectators. You can achieve physical distancing between rows by leaving certain rows empty, moving seats, or selling seats diagonally. Every venue must reach its own detailed solutions itself.
  • Most ticket sales systems allow you to create a seating plan from which some of the seats have been removed.
  • There is no additional risk in members of the same household sitting together without physical distancing of 1–2 m. [5]
  • It is important to tell customers beforehand about your solution. For example, you may sell “family/couple tickets” for designated seats in advance. Or, you may allow spectators to freely choose where they sit, with staff guiding them to maintain physical distancing.
  • We recommend stressing the point in advance to customers that they cannot freely swap seats with others after they have been directed to a seat. To increase customers’ sense of security, you should tell them clearly when they can move to another seat (for example, before the lights go down), and that they can safely move to sit closer to members of their own household as long as they keep a safe distance to other spectators.
  • This recommendation will be updated in terms of physical distancing once we get more information about children’s groups, for example. At present, the authorities have no guidelines about groups of children.
  • The same distances must be maintained with immersive works, in non-traditional auditoriums, and performances with an unusual audience ratio. In events like this, communication beforehand is even more important: you should tell the audience about safety instructions when they buy tickets, when they pick up tickets and when they get to the venue.

During intervals:

  • In some cases, you can cut out the interval altogether to reduce queues and crowds.
  • If you want to retain an interval, it may have to be longer than normal. Customers should enter and leave the auditorium in a controlled fashion, for example, by row or sector, which will slow things down.
  • You can set up more serving points, if possible, so all the customers do not stand in the same queue.
  • We recommend taking more advance interval refreshments reservations to reduce queues at service points. If possible, place reserved tables close to the customer’s seats to reduce intersecting foot traffic.
  • Note that specific orders apply to restaurants (Regional State Administrative Agencies).
  • If possible, we recommend avoiding the use of cash. However, if you accept cash, provide hand washing and disinfection facilities or disposable gloves.
  • If you provide restaurant catering after the event, we recommend opening up more tables to advance booking.

Enhanced cleaning

Pay extra attention to cleaning premises used by spectators.

Use a weak alkaline general purpose cleaning solution. Disinfectant cleans more powerfully in sanitary spaces. Follow the cleaning instructions from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

  • Clean door handles, service counters, taps and banisters as often as possible, at least daily and, if possible, every 2–4 h, for example, before, during and after a performance. On days with two performances, clean surfaces between the performances.[6]

You can read examples by following the Emma theatre and KokoTeatteri audience safety instruction links.

 

Sources:

[1] Aluehallintoviraston tiedote 26.8.2020. Accessed 9 September 2020. http://www.avi.fi/web/avi/-/syyskuussa-saa-jarjestaa-myos-yli-50-hengen-tapahtumia-kun-niiden-turvallisuus-varmistetaan

[2] Ministry of Education and Culture, Institute for Health and Welfare 2020. Instructions for preventing coronavirus infections at spectator events, public gatherings and when using public spaces. Accessed 4 August and 9 September 2020. https://minedu.fi/documents/1410845/22330894/Ohje+yleis%C3%B6tilaisuuksiin%2C+yleisiin+kokoontumisiin+ja+julkisten+tilojen+k%C3%A4ytt%C3%B6%C3%B6n.pdf/2b13eaca-ab49-9dda-3edf-65cb22fb65ac/Ohje+yleis%C3%B6tilaisuuksiin%2C+yleisiin+kokoontumisiin+ja+julkisten+tilojen+k%C3%A4ytt%C3%B6%C3%B6n.pdf?version=1.0&t=1589797363000

[3]  Ministry of Education and Culture, Institute for Health and Welfare 2020. Instructions for preventing coronavirus infections at spectator events, public gatherings and when using public spaces. Accessed 12 June 2020. https://stm.fi/documents/1271139/21429433/Ohje+yleis%C3%B6tilaisuuksiin+yleisiin+kokoontumisiin+ja+julkisten+tilojen+k%C3%A4ytt%C3%B6%C3%B6n_140520.pdf/b90ac145-b4db-23db-c966-874570ee1b03

[4], [6] Finnish Institute of Occupational Health 2020. Cleaning guidelines for preventing COVID-19 infections. Accessed 12 June 2020. https://hyvatyo.ttl.fi/koronavirus/ohje-siivoukseen

[5] Institute for Health and Welfare Dos Otto Helve 8.6.2020. Email replies.


Update information:

These instructions were updated on 18 June 2020 by the audience safety subordinate working group, led by: Antti Pylkkänen (antti.pylkkanen@musiikkitalo.fi). Other working group members: Marika Agarth (Finnish National Theatre), Eira Tuohimaa (Finnish National Opera and Ballet), Sanna Kiviranta (Turku City Theatre), Anna Suomela (Finnish National Opera and Ballet), Samppa Rinne (Tampere Hall), Antti Pylkkänen (Helsinki Music Centre) and Anna Veijalainen (KokoTeatteri).

Updated on 4 August 2020.

Updated on 9 September 2020.