7 steps to having a COVID safe Christmas party

08 December 2020

It’s that time of year again. For many organisations, the official Christmas Party and end of year celebrations are imminent. No matter what your version of a Christmas party normally looks like, the reality is that this year, it’s bound to look a little different.

Businesses have adapted to the changing business landscape this year, so navigating the restrictions for a great end-of-year party is very manageable.

We have set out the following 7 step guide for you to ensure a successful and Covid-safe Christmas party.

Step 1: COVID safe planning

Ensure you check the current government health directives to be aware of current restrictions. Keep monitoring government sites for changes and remind your staff members of their obligation to abide by current restrictions (such as mask wearing or social distancing).

Ensure both your office and the venue have a Covid-Safe plan and clearly communicate to your staff that if anyone is feeling unwell, particularly if they have Covid-related symptoms, they should not attend the event.

Step 2: have a backup plan

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s to ensure that you have a plan B. A sudden spike in Covid cases could see cities and states falling back into lockdown. So while a socially distanced extravaganza might be preferable, also plan for a virtual event if restrictions are to change.

Step 3: try keeping it outdoors

Given the increased risk of transmission of the virus indoors, particularly in venues where food and alcohol are consumed, it is a safer option to choose an outdoor venue. While unpredictable weather might be a deterrent, consider choosing an outdoor venue that is able to cater for all weather events.

Step 4: don’t forget good hygiene

Whatever event you choose, make sure you register attendance for contact tracing purposes. Try to minimise contact by having one person with a checklist or an app to minimise touchpoints and provide hand sanitiser during the event.

Remind everyone in advance of safe hygiene practices and to socially distance themselves from others. If masks are still a requirement, remind your staff members of same.

Step 5: keep it small

While the pre-Covid Christmas parties may have been a large office-wide affair, perhaps this year try to keep it more intimate. There is nothing wrong with celebrating with only your team. If anything, it might give you an opportunity to get to know each other better.

Step 6: plan your catering

In terms of food, single-serve meals are now the preferred option. While buffets and share-style catering are typically a Christmas party staple, this year they need to be adapted to eliminate the use of shared utensils and communal food and minimise the risk of transmission.

Step 7: set expectations beforehand

An email shortly prior to the event reminding employees of the need to engage in appropriate behaviour and comply with workplace policies is an important aid to manage risk. It is critical to remind staff of their obligations regarding behaviour, workplace policies and consumption of alcohol.

It is important to remind all staff that they are still at work, and their conduct during the course of a work function is held to the same standard as when they are present in the office.

Step 8: determine a start and finishing time

Ensure the party has an official finishing time and that staff are aware any pre or after parties are not authorised by the employer.

Step 9: work health and safety obligations

Employers have a legal responsibility to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees, which also extends to participating in work-authorised events.

Remember to set clear expectations around employee behaviour, the consumption of alcohol and Covid related restrictions. By having appropriate measures in place, 2020 might still be in for a successful end!

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