The coronavirus pandemic has unexpectedly opened up a whole new world of outdoor activities and events that were previously held inside, and we can expect events in the near future to be outdoors for quite some time. With the holiday party season right around the corner, safe and fully staffed outdoor gatherings are on event planners’ minds

Hosting outdoor events that adhere to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is possible, and all staff must be in compliance with health regulations to ensure the safety of attendees. Counties within each state have jurisdiction over capacity designations for outdoor gatherings. Since policies often follow the threat of virus spread in each area, checking to see what mandates are in place before your event is essential. 

Entry Testing and Health Checks

Although the effectiveness of conducting entry testing, specifically before large gatherings have been inconclusive, making sure that staff who will be in attendance are not COVID positive could help reduce spread if other safety measures are also adhered to. The CDC recommends that both staff and attendees should undergo health screenings such as temperature checks and complete a symptoms questionnaire in accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) regulations. 

Any staff member that has suffered from COVID-19 symptoms within 14 days of the event should not be permitted to work. Health checks should not take the place of normal preventative measures such as wearing masks, social distancing, regular hand washing, and using gloves. Briefing staff on COVID-19 prevention best practices will ensure that everyone working your event has the safety knowledge needed to prevent virus spread. Face masks should cover both the nose and mouth at all times, and limiting contact with attendees as much as possible is recommended. 

Employ Bartenders and Servers That are TIPS Certified

If you plan on serving alcohol at your celebration, ensuring that all bartenders and servers are Training for Intervention Procedures (TIPS) certified is another way to keep your guests safe. The TIPS certification program provides training for servers, bartenders, and clerks to prevent intoxication, underage drinking, and drunk driving by using the “people skills” of servers and sellers in a strategic fashion to mitigate risk. Created in 1982 by the founding director of the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, Dr. Morris Chafetz, the program helps anyone selling or serving alcohol to be vigilant and proactive when it comes to preventing alcohol related incidents. 

Being TIPS certified means that the staff you hire will be aware of the legal responsibilities of serving alcoholic beverages and learn to apply information in real-life situations. It also helps bartenders and servers recognize warning signs of over intoxication so that they can provide responsible alcohol service at all times. 

Enhanced Sanitation Procedures 

Ensuring that outdoor surfaces, high touch areas, and serving items are cleaned before and after the event is critical to each and every guests health and safety. Tables and chairs should be sanitized before guests arrive, and staff members should wear gloves when handling flatware or place settings. 

Changing gloves and sanitizing throughout the evening (especially after collecting plates) will help prevent the transfer of germs between attendees. Even though sanitation is critical, staff should avoid intermingling cleaners with food, and cleaning products should be stored away from food to prevent ingestion.

Disinfecting countertops, bar areas, door handles, bathrooms, handwashing stations, and cash registers frequently is essential. Creating a cleaning schedule for your event will help staff members cover all areas effectively and efficiently. Staff should also be trained on how to properly disinfect surfaces, when to change gloves, and cleaners should never be used near children. 


It should never be assumed that staff members know the ins and outs of COVID-19 prevention methods. Active communication and training is vital to keep guests and staff members safe. Both staff and event guests should rest assured that outdoor events are considerably safer than holding indoor events. With the proper prevention procedures in place, your guests will stay safe and have a wonderful time socializing, which many are anxious to do.

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