The COVID-19 pandemic is an enormous challenge for the entire MICE sector. But it is a challenge we intend to master – and we can. A look behind the scenes at #futurework20 shows how events can be h...
“Great – your test is negative too!”
Summary of the blog post
A live event with a lot of people under one roof? That seems unimaginable in the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. With rapid antigen tests and hygiene protocols, Berlin’s ‘pilot testing project’ has shown how live events could work. Find out more about it's findings.
A live event with a lot of people under one roof? That seems unimaginable in the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic – and yet it can be done. With rapid antigen tests and hygiene protocols, Berlin’s ‘pilot testing project’ (only available in German) has shown how live events could work. Here, you can find out more about the pilot project and its findings.
2 pm Going into a hotel, meeting people, and attending a ‘real’ event has rarely felt so special. A year after the Covid-19 pandemic started, this is the Berlin Convention Office’s first event with over 100 in-person attendees. As part of the Berlin-wide Pilot Testing Project, the event entitled #Perspective MICE Berlin began – naturally enough – with everyone taking an antigen test.
2:05 pm There are no queues and plenty of space in the large lobby at Estrel Berlin. When attendees register for the first time their QR code for the requested test slot is scanned and printed. The entire event registration process is managed digitally. At the entrance, hygiene and face mask protocols are displayed on monitors and the hand sanitiser stations and social distancing all create a feeling of security. The rapid Covid antigen test is fast and uncomplicated. A throat swab is taken in individual cabins and each test marked by the respective QR code. Then it’s a wait of 15 minutes. Anyone unable to reserve a test at the Estrel Centre could take one in advance at any of seven decentralised cooperating test centres in the city.
“The entire test procedure was no bother at all, and I’d be happy to do the same at future events as well.” (Alexander Görlich, Humboldt Carrée)
2:20 pm In the waiting area, the windows are open wide and there is lots of space to ensure social distancing. Here and there, you can sense the smiles behind the masks. Everyone is happy to meet up again – and delighted to find their antigen test is negative. The participants receive their results by email and text messages – the entry ticket for the event.
“After a year with few social contacts, it was an emotional experience to meet up with people in small groups again, chatting and talking, and see familiar faces from the sector. And even with the masks, I recognised them all.” (Bastian Ulrich, visitBerlin Convention Partner)
Entry only with a negative test
2:30 pm On the way to the check-in and picking up our event name badges, elbow bumps were the order of the day as people happily greeted each other with a cheerful “Great – your test is negative too!” After all, participants could only enter the event with photo ID and a QR code from a negative antigen test.
2:40 pm Each name badge is freshly printed. Every participant assembles their own badge and here too the event is, as it were, almost contact-free. The route is shown by floor arrows, while the large tables in the reception areas are clearly marked for a maximum of four people. And of course, beverages are all self-service.
“In-person events are a key pillar in our sector. The planning for this event format has been put into practice extremely well and it indicates one way forward for us to hold safe MICE events during the COVID-19 pandemic.” (Sebastian Loelf, Novotel Berlin Am Tiergarten)
2:50 pm In the hall, tables and chairs are set well apart. The tables are all freshly disinfected and provided with a choice of beverages. With each attendee assigned an individual table, seating follows the social distancing, hygiene and face mask protocols. It is a good feeling to know everyone has a negative test and is wearing a face mask, and to sense the almost tangible power of these personal encounters – in evidence, at the latest, as the first burst of applause echoes through the room.
3 pm The event starts in a hybrid format. In his role as presenter, Christian Tänzler, visitBerlin Press Officer, welcomes the first guests onto the stage, the attendees in the hall and in front of the screens, and emphasises the relaxed nature of this pilot event. This is how such events can work. Holding events following the social distancing, hygiene and face mask protocols is possible – and desirable.
6 pm At the end of the event, the attendees follow the signage system to the exit and deregister with their QR code before leaving the building. With social distancing and carefulness becoming second nature over the last year, the evening is not for mingling and networking. But this pilot event is still a first step and a perspective for future events, something so many have sorely missed.
“After such a long time, it was wonderful to attend a live event and be able to exchange views and news personally. I think that’s something we are all missing!” (Sarah Fichtmüller, bcc Berlin Congress Center GmbH)
Plan B. – Berlin offers a good model to follow
This pilot event not only showed how events during the Covid-19 pandemic could be held in practice, but the podium guests also presented ideas and offered encouragement for future events. Berlin has a plan – a Plan B. which could set the trend for things to come.
“We’ll be dealing with the pandemic for quite a while yet. So it’s even more important to find an encouraging perspective and show how, in the longer term, we can plan events during and after the corona crisis. With this pilot project and together with our partners, first and foremost, the Senate Departments for Economics, Culture, and Health, we have shown that Berlin can offer a perspective – a Plan B. This concept safeguards everyone’s health and yet also offers the hope that soon, once again, we can all benefit from the power of personal encounters at live events.” (Marco Oelschlegel, Berlin Convention Office)
Events during the corona pandemic
Planning a conference or event in Berlin? Contact us for more details at convention@visitBerlin.de. Together with our partners, we have drafted a comprehensive hygiene protocol for events and would be happy to develop corona-compliant solutions for your next event. You can find the key information on the current hygiene regulations at events during the corona pandemic on our website.
About Berlin's 'pilot project #Perspective MICE Berlin & Review
- On 25.03.2021 at the Estrel Berlin
- With around 100 partners of the Berlin MICE industry live on site
- Our contribution to the opening of cultural and business events in Berlin
- Part of the large-scale Berlin pilot project Testing
- To the review with picture gallery & online stream (only available in German)