Safety Protocols at Events during Covid-19

Festivals and events are slowly starting to come back. If you plan to attend one, they may look a little different than you’re used to. Be ready for spaced out lines, questionnaires, and bubbled up parties.

One event you may find yourself attending throughout September is “Love from afar. A Shakespeare mash up.” It is a collection of Shakespeare’s greatest hits woven together to tell a story about love. The performance is presented by “a Company of Fools”, who are known for “creating innovative, entertaining, and accessible shows based on the works of William Shakespeare.”

“The theme [of the show] is about love and overcoming hurdles,” said Keith Jackson, general manager of a company of fools. “Which we thought was appropriate in these separated COVID times.”

The show, which has been in-the-making for over a year, has had an ample amount of time to get any issues sorted out.

Last year, they performed a similar show for seniors who were in lockdown and facing strict isolation measures. “We performed outside their windows and mic’d the actors and put the sound into the homes. So they could watch through their windows and get the sound over FM radio,” explained Jackson. “We also were concerned about our cast and crew, so we kept them to a minimum and spaced them.”

Since last year’s performance, it hasn’t always been clear if they’d be able to perform again this season. “We’ve postponed it, and we postponed our workshop two or three times,” said Jackson. “It’s fine to be pushing back, but at some point you hit a point where you can’t do an outdoor show anymore.”

Now that COVID restrictions are less strict, the production is able to perform outside and in-person. However, some measures like the spacing of the cast will stay. Jackson says the cast spacing is unnoticeable and doesn’t take away from the experience.

As for the audience, there wont be more than 100 people in attendance. Upon arrival, things will look pretty “normal.” Lines will be spaced 2 metres apart, masks are required, and hand sanitizer will be available. Guests will also sit in their socially-distanced bubbles of 1 to 4 people.

The safety protocols in place have been created in guidance with Ottawa Public Health, the parks department, and by-law, said Jackson. “We consulted a lot with the city and province. So, yes it’s arduous, but it’s not terrible. It just needs a little interpretation at times.”

Ultimately, Jackson believes that they went over and beyond the safety requirements. “We tend to be a little stricter than the rules. You don’t have to 2-metre-distance people. But we thought to play it safe and bubble everyone. It’s a complex time for everybody because it’s so new.”

The production itself is a new spin on old material, and fun for all ages, says Jackson. It will be running at various locations between September 2nd and 25th.

When it comes to organizing in person events during a pandemic, Michel-Olivier Matte the general manager of Festival Franco-Ontarien is experienced. He and his team hosted 100 festival goers in Major’s Hill Park in September of 2020  to celebrate Franco-Ontarian culture. “It was like having Ariane Moffat play in your backyard” he says. This year will be nothing less.

In regards to COVID-19 safety protocols, Michel-Olivier noted that at this point into the “new normal” it’s become the standard to wear masks, social distance, disinfect surfaces and wash our hands.

They’ve allotted maximal space for the artists behind the scenes and will have to cap the amount of people allowed into the space to follow provincial guidelines.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen, if the government imposes a vaccine passport we will comply with government rules and regulations that will be in effect when the festival  takes place” says Michel-Olivier, which is why they encourage festival goers to be fully vaccinated. “It  appears to be the best way for the population to renew with live events as soon as possible”, says the director in closing.