5: COVID19

5: COVID19

COVID19 has had substantial impact on Copenhagen 2021, and when the Danish Government were forced to lock down Denmark in March 2020, it completely changed Copenhagen 2021 for good.

In the spring of 2020, the immediate effect of COVID19 was on internal processes and the team having to work from home. Already, the team was affected by the change of CEO and the lock-down inhibited the onboarding of the CEO and new staff, as well as stagnating the commercial strategy and foundation opportunities.

The commercial strategy got back on track after the organisational changes and priorities in September 2020, described previously, and the general assumption both internally and from the health authorities were that we should expect the pandemic to have passed by August 2021.

When winter 2020 came and the COVID19 numbers soared again, the health authorities and the Danish government again had to lock down Denmark. Then it became apparent that we should expect the pandemic to influence the delivery of Copenhagen 2021.

The strategic work within our organisation in response to the COVID19 pandemic consisted of an extensive analysis by our safety and production teams, which were the basis for well-defined scenarios and contingency plans ready to implement.

The analysis

Our safety- and production team created an extensive mapping and analysis of all potential consequences that followed COVID19 and the authorities’ restrictions and requirements in relation to COVID19.

The mapping was based on the topics and divisions that the authorities had made in the national warning system. Thereby, we were able to see all potential restrictions horizontally in the sheet, and vertically all the events Copenhagen 2021 had planned and the effects it would have on specific events. The purpose of this sheet was to provide a quick and general overview of the consequences of restrictions, divided into the individual events, but also, it served as a guideline to further organisational and managerial work, and especially when it came to the decision-making on which scenarios we should work towards.

The consequences were based on all things we knew in relation to Danish legislation, the authorities’ guidelines and the experiences gathered during 2020. However, revisions were made as new and updated guidelines were created.

Scenarios

The COVID19 pandemic meant that we had to have contingency plans ready to implement. To do so we needed well-defined scenarios to work with.

Initially, we defined five scenarios ranging from full delivery to full digitalisation. After the initial stages of scenario planning the government had announced that some physical events would be possible over summer 2021, but with restrictions. Scenario 1, full delivery, and scenario 5, full digitalisation, were thereby no longer plausible and we focused on three scenarios of the event, which served as baseline for planning within each pillar and area in the organisation:

Scenario 1

Outline

The vaccine has been widely distributed – in Denmark and the rest of the world. We can arrange the event almost as before the pandemic with few and less intrusive initiative such as hand sanitiser, general information, and other informative measures to assert confidence and safety among participants and spectators. However, the world has changed and the overall approach to event needs to be adjusted slightly.

Capacity

  • No restrictions on audience size, however still some precautions need to be taken.
  • Travel restrictions have been lifted, but the mentality has changed which will mean that fewer will travel to Copenhagen from overseas than expected. Focus even more on European participants.
  • An appropriate digital strategy needs to be developed. There will be a digital element to this event no matter what, but the scale will need to be adapted to any given scenario (see timeline).

Potential mitigating actions

  • Initiatives with a focus on increased hygiene and cleaning as well as the use of, for example, masks and fever scanning at the entrance.
  • Behavior regulation through crowd management.
  • Extra focus on external partnerships where the responsibilities and costs are fully covered with the partners.

Budget

  • We are working with the full-scale budget where the funding forecast looks promising.
  • The digitalisation budget is a part of each individual budget heading

Scenario 2

Outline

The vaccine has been widely distributed – but it is not fully distributed yet. The effects are positive, the society is slowly coming back to its normal self. However, the world has changed and hand sanitiser, physical distancing, masks in public is a more common thing than before the pandemic began. The pandemic is not over, restrictions still apply to mass gatherings, but they are much looser than in Scenario 3.

Capacity

  • No specific restrictions on audience size, however still some precautions need to be taken. It is our responsibility to make sure it is safe to attend our event, which means safety precautions still needs to be taken to make sure of that. We need to ensure everyone attending our events are either corona free or has had the vaccine. There will be government rules to follow, but it will also be our responsibility as an organiser to develop appropriate measures to ensure safety.
  • Travel restrictions are partially loosened up, meaning fewer people are traveling in for the event. The foreigners participating will mainly be from Europe. It will be close to the event before a clear picture of who will participate is forming
  • An appropriate digital strategy needs to be developed. There will be a digital element to this event no matter what, but the scale will need to be adapted to any given scenario (see timeline).

Potential mitigating actions

  • New testing and screening options: Before, during and after events through the public testing capacity as well as screening using reliable rapid tests.
  • Registration of all guests and active infection detection – including requirements for corona-pas before participation.
  • Initiatives with a focus on increased hygiene and cleaning as well as the use of, for example, masks and fever scanning at the entrance.
  • Behaviour regulation through crowd management.
  • Extra focus on external partnerships where the responsibilities and costs are fully covered with the partners.

Budget

  • Some budget headings must be changed to adapt to the scenarios – mostly regarding fencing, screening, testing, hygiene, and cleaning.

Scenario 3

Outline

  • A vaccine has not been distributed widely enough. The pandemic is still something that affects our everyday life and strict guidelines for social gatherings and events are still in effect. Many larger festivals have – again – been forced to cancel/postpone their events.
  • Within sports there are still strict guidelines meaning many sports competitions must be cancelled or changed in scale to abide to the rules. It will not be possible to have spectators to the competitions.
  • Travel restrictions still apply with essentially closed borders, meaning few or no people are traveling in for the event, making the physical part of the event predominantly Danish.

Capacity

  • Restrictions on audience size applies, with the limit set probably at around 500. It is our responsibility to find a system for enforcing this and adapting all events to this restricted capacity. Fencing to make public spaces controlled will be necessary.
  • An appropriate digital strategy needs to be developed. There will be a digital element to this event no matter what, but the scale will need to be adapted to any given scenario (see timeline).

Potential mitigating actions

  • New testing and screening options: Before, during and after events through the public testing capacity as well as screening using reliable rapid tests.
  • Registration of all guests and active infection detection – including requirements for corona-pas before participation.
  • Initiatives with a focus on increased hygiene and cleaning as well as the use of, for example, masks and fever scanning at the entrance.
  • Behavior regulation through crowd management.
  • To conduct ‘learning event’, which makes it possible to examine the handling of tests and of the audience, the participants’ attitudes and behavior, etc. It will ensure a better knowledge base before the implementation of festivals and major concerts.
  • Extra focus on external partnerships where the responsibilities and costs are fully covered with the partners.

Budget

  • Some budget headings must be changed to adapt to the scenarios – significantly when it comes to fencing, screening, testing, hygiene, and cleaning.
  • Funds are reprioritised to adapt to the scenario – for example from physical events to digitalisation.

Across all three scenarios an appropriate digital strategy was further developed. We planned for digital elements to the event regardless of scenario, while the scale would need to be adapted to any given scenario.

Schematic outline

All areas were asked to complete a schematic outline to all the scenario descriptions. These schemes were the formal guideline for the work towards framing each scenario.

For each of the three scenarios and areas, the team described the implications on their events, within these topics:

  • Planning and execution
  • Layout of venues
  • Content
  • Budget

Timeline 2021

Decision

The health, safety and well-being of the public and visitors was always our highest priority. We were acting on the advice of the Danish and Swedish health authorities and police, and local and national governments. We were committed to ensuring the safety of all participants at all of our venues.

Based on dialogue with the owner organizations, it was decided that the minimum we had to deliver was, for WorldPride the level of delivery seen at Copenhagen Pride 2020, which had digital participation as well as limited physical participation, while the feeling of demonstration and Pride had to be present, and for EuroGames we had to deliver as many sports as possible.

Due to the uncertainties on restrictions to expect by August 2021, the board decided that we worked towards a scalable scenario 2. This meant that we all needed to work on delivering scenario 2, while considering scalability – based on the notion that it is easier to scale up than down.

The overall principles we worked within were:

  • There must be a feeling of demonstration and pride.
    o Inclusion
    o Audience safety
    o Feeling of activism
    o Feeling of community
  • We should have as many participants as possible (physically/digitally).
  • We should plan for activities that can take place regardless of restrictions.

COVID Group

To speed up decision-making processes and assure proper handling of the COVID19 contingency planning, the board set up a group that would guide and decide on COVID19-measures.

This centralisation of decision-making competence and mandate were however not a centralisation of work tasks, meaning that this group functioned as an advisory and decision-making group rather than a working group. In other words, a group that could decide on the framework for which detailed planning had to comply to. In practice, it meant that as soon as final guidelines from the government were presented, the group members cleared their calendar, sat down together, and went through each event/venue and decided which guidelines the event/venue could plan from. Event by event, venue by venue. When that was finalised, the rest of the organisation worked on the detailed planning within the frame decided by the COVID Group.

Members of the group

  • Benjamin Hansen, Managing Director
  • Jeppe James, Head of Production
  • Morten Therkildsen, Head of Safety
  • Steve Taylor, Director of Communications and Marketing
  • Kieron Yates, Transversal Project Manager
  • Jan Barfod, Production Manager

Tasks

  • Gather needed information from area managers.
  • Give recommendations to the board.
  • Write a COVID19 plan and monitoring that this is complied with during the event.
  • Update and feed into teamwork plans e.g., update Communications when we need messaging to go out.
  • Revise budgets as the deliverables change.
  • Consider and communicate impact on external stakeholders eg partners, transport agencies, suppliers.
  • Set internal deadlines for decisions.
  • Ensure involvement of all Directors of in the process (as much as possible)
  • Re-evaluate all venues/program points in relation to the restrictions at hand

Mandate

The group had mandate to:

  • Require changes to program plans and wishes or even cancel completely.
  • Require information/input from area managers with short deadlines.
  • Change set up/layout of venues.
  • Put capacity limits on areas.
  • Request oversight of contracts to assess impact.
  • Renegotiate and/or upscale downscale orders with suppliers.

Focus areas

The focus areas for the COVID Group were:

  • Fencing, access control and crowd management
  • Tests / COVID19 passports
  • Capacity depending on current guidelines as well as a method to control that the capacity is not exceeded.

Final changes

After the Danish government published COVID19 restrictions that would be in place in August, we publicly announced that we felt these restrictions were ‘overly cautious’, as they went against the advice of the government’s own expert group. Whilst that remained our view, with only three months to go, we had to find a way forward to deliver our events in the best possible format for the largest possible audience.

Our focus was on creating a safe event for our team, partners, participants and guests, and the most significant changes were:

  • The WorldPride Parade in Copenhagen was replaced by six WorldPride Marches.
  • The WorldPride Opening Parade in Malmö was moved to a stadium.
  • WorldPride Square in Copenhagen was repurposed from a concert venue to a marketplace, with partner activations, food court and a smaller centre stage for speeches and performances
  • A Copenhagen 2021 Viewing Area at Fælledparken, allowing 10,000 people to watch shows in separate sections with bars and toilet facilities. There were also on-site elements, such as speeches, DJs and some live performances.
  • Reprogramming and down-scaling of performances at Fluid Festival, Sports Village, Front Yard and Rainbow Children @ BLOX.
  • Outdoor concerts in Malmö were cancelled.
  • All enclosed areas had access control to limit numbers, and some were ticketed. It remained our intention that as many events as possible were free of charge, including ticketed events.
  • Concerts and Closing Ceremony were moved to KB Hallen and were subject to ticketing. The content was then be livestreamed to the Viewing Area at Fælledparken, to WorldPride Square and to our digital channels.
    These changes gave us a capacity of many thousands of people within the COVID19 restrictions and through these revised plans we could introduce visitors and guests to a truly Danish, cosy atmosphere and show them our city like never before. And, critically, we retained the vital human rights programming and messaging, changing lives for LGBTI+ people globally, as well as 22 EuroGames sports.

We published and regularly updated a specific page on our website with all COVID19 related information. You can view the page here.

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