The hardest choice we need to make today is choosing lives over livelihood. When we were first exposed to COVID-19 in South Africa in March 2020, it became brutally obvious to us that life was about to change dramatically and when we realized that events were a catalyst for spreading the virus, we knew we needed to start preparing for an uncertain future.
Initial reactions varied, but as we learnt more about COVID-19, many in the field of health and safety realised the enormity of the situation and how bad it could become. We understood the reason for a lockdown, understood why borders needed to be closed and why we needed to isolate. We quickly became aware that by removing people from people, the spread of the virus could be controlled somewhat, buying us time to prepare.
Now that months have gone by, we have seen the impact of the virus and the many lost lives throughout the world, but we have realized that life cannot simply stop. We know that we cannot pause indefinitely. We know we need to find ways to live with COVID-19 around us and we need to develop new habits, make changes, find ways to continue our lives without exposing ourselves and others to the virus.
There is no choice; we need to accept that having a livelihood and ability to work and earn money is as critical as life itself. Therefore, we have already learnt to adapt and learn what is necessary to keep ourselves and others safe. It’s time to get back to living.
The events industry will come back - slowly at first - but it will come back. When it finally reopens fully, we may not fully recognise the eventing environment as we knew it pre-COVID-19, but we WILL be grateful that we are open again. We will appreciate the ability to once again illuminate other people’s lives. Our having a livelihood in events, allows us to have a positive impact on other people’s lives.
Events are key to our makeup as humans. Interactions, communications, networking and socialising are integral aspects of human nature and once we are able to provide these platforms again, we will remember and appreciate why events are so crucial to a human being’s DNA.
The event community worldwide has been hit by one of the hardest blows to our existence, we are being tested on more fronts than we are used to, but COVID-19, or any other pandemic for that matter, will never kill off the industry. Life will change and life will evolve, but events will continue, music will continue to play and business will still be done face-to-face. We have an opportunity to fix what we haven’t been able to before and we have a chance to re-invent ourselves during this time.
Now is not the time to lose concentration, now is the time to continue working through the change our businesses need to make to adapt to what things will look like in the future. The event community remains resilient and optimistic. We will stay focused secure in the knowledge that before too long we will once again do what we do best and we will be stronger and better for it!
Mike Lord is the Interim Chair: Event Safety Council and a member of the SA Events Council
as well as the Director: Alliance Safety Management