The governor’s accelerateSC pandemic task force created documents to help with decision making, including Guidelines for Re-opening Festivals & Special Events and Guidelines for Re-opening Mass Gatherings or Large Community Events.
Planning and preparation for special events is still happening. The governor’s executive order from October 2 requires that those planning events for more than 250 guests must request approval for the event from the SC Department of Commerce, and demonstrate that they will comply with federal and state safety procedures.
Cities and towns will also need to consider the risks beyond the pandemic for the events they host. For events like festivals, parades or Christmas tree lightings, risk coordinators and other key municipal staff should form a special events committee and start special events planning far in advance.
Stakeholders such as police, fire and public works should meet to determine the types of special events that occur within the city, identify risks, develop effective controls, and assess the potential impact on the city, residents and local businesses. City officials should also consider designating one staff member to serve as a coordinator of all special event activities and oversee the special events committee.
When planning events, cities need to answer several questions to determine how best to protect both residents and city assets. First, what could go wrong at the event? What preventive measures can be taken against these negative outcomes? If something does go wrong, how will the city or town pay for it? Drafting a special events policy and having it reviewed by the city attorney is a key way to manage the risk that special events can create.
Most liability insurance policies have exclusions that can affect special events, and municipal officials should be familiar with the exclusions stipulated in their policies.
Activities commonly excluded by liability coverage
- Communicable diseases, including the coronavirus
- Bungee jumping and similar amusement devices
- Fireworks displays
- Parachuting and hang gliding
- Airplane, helicopter or ballooning rides and shows
- Mechanical amusement devices
- Traveling carnivals and circuses