What happens in a venue when a patron is diagnosed with coronavirus
Perth Concert Hall had the unenviable position of being the first venue in our network to have a patron with confirmed COVID-19. We asked their general mananger Brendon Ellmer to share their response to the situation for the information of all members. Note that, until the government’s advisement to suspend events with audiences 500+, the venue had resumed operating as per usual.
From Brendon Ellmer, GM of Perth Concert Hall:
After a busy Perth Festival period and the launch of the WASO Orchestral Season, the venue was dark for the first time in a month.
However, on Sunday 8 March at 1133, my phone rang with a call from a private number which I did not get to before it went to voicemail. The message left was unclear and did not explain who the organization was.
The message I received was “Hello this is Anastasia form the MCDC can you call me urgently about a health issue at your venue”
I actually thought it was a scam call! I rang back several times and eventually got through at 1138.
At this point I was informed that the person calling was a Doctor from the Metropolitan Communicable Disease Control (MCDC). She informed me that a patron who had attended a WASO concert the night before, had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus and requested I provide her with the names and telephone numbers of all other patrons seated in and around the area where the infected patron had been seated. I asked when they were going to go public with this information and was told that at 1245 there a Health Department Press Conference was being held. I took the Doctor’s mobile number, wrote down the information she had given me and began calling our Management Team together to arrange to meet onsite to put in place our Response Plan and start informing relevant stakeholders.
The sequence of events was as follows:
- On arrival at 1245 ticketing staff assembled the patron list in an Excel document and sent it back to the MCDC
- At the same time, the venue enacted our Response Plan and tweaked the prepared communications
- A list of hirer and promoters who had booked the venue until the end of July was prepared so that an information email could be sent to them, direct from the venue
- An email received from MCDC with letters was forwarded to all staff who had been working the concert (attached)
- Cleaning guidelines were sourced from the MCDC who put us in touch with the Health Department direct (via phone). It actually transpired that there were no specific guidelines for cleaning venues in terms of COVID 19 so the Health Department provided amended Hotel Accommodation guidelines for use.
The guidelines stated that:
- Cleaners were to clean their hands with alcohol wash pre and post clean
- Disposable rubber gloves were to be worn
- Standard detergent and disinfectant was to be used
- The cleaning focus was for all tactile areas (particularly door handles and rails) and the area in which the patron had been seated
- Masks were not required unless the patron was in the vicinity 15 minutes or less prior to the clean
Communication were sent out in the following order:
- Staff and stakeholders
We did not respond to the Media at this point as we did not want our message altered or manipulated.
At 1330 the Cleaning Contractors were briefed and cleaning commenced.
At around 1400hr (via a phone call) we contacted the MCDC to find out if there were any other areas the patron had been to. The MCDC did not know the answer so enquired further. When the answer came back that the patron had been moving in and around most areas of the venue, it was clear to both parties that the MCDC would require the details of all patrons, staff and performers from that night. The following information was therefore assembled and sent to the MMCDC:
- All patrons
- All Front of House and Back of House Staff
- Catering Staff
- Security Staff
- Ticketing Staff
- St John Event Health Officers
- Pre-Concert presenter
- Orchestra members – many of whom had been in the Foyers post show
Given the speed with which the information was required we were very happy with the outcome of our actions and the few learning that came out of it for us were:
- Make sure your emergency number is up to date and the person has their phone on at all times – I responded in five minutes – with the venue dark at the time of call it could easily have been missed
- Note all information down immediately – the caller was not using venue specific terms and was obviously quite stressed and under pressure themselves
- Find out where the patron had been in the venue apart from where they had been seated i.e. bars, lifts, bathrooms etc.
- Having a Communications Plan before the event saved an enormous amount of time and stress!
- Ensure that your organization has all of their Contact Lists for various staff members up to date at all times!
Brendon Ellmer CVE
Perth Concert Hall