What We Learned from Proper-Distanced Events – Part 2 of 5

This is the second of five parts on setting up proper-distanced events. While focusing on storytelling, the information applies to any performing arts or proper-distanced event. Our blog as well as our proper-distanced house concerts with rental of recordings are wonderful sources of information and entertainment.


  • Part 1 – Distancing & Spacing – REVEALED
  • Part 2 – Sanitation & Other Safety Measures – TODAY
  • Part 3 – Test Runs & Early Set-Ups
  • Part 4 – Relief to Potential Audience
  • Part 5 – Audience Isolation Behaviors

You know that hand sanitizer is a must but there are MUCH MORE to understand and have available.

In fact, this part will be long…but important. You can see an even longer version as a type of checklist by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Order your sanitation supplies early.

Lysol has been extremely popular and hard to get unless you order online or find a local smaller store. While Lysol wipes have been popular, we have loved the spray better. It is faster and not only helps to sanitize the object-in-question but also the surrounding air near it, as COVID-19 is spread through water droplets.

All hand sanitizers are not made equal so be careful whenever buying “off” brand.

You can still get “off” brand, but look at reviews from other people before committing to purchasing it. And…sanitizer does not have to smell pretty. It only has to work. Click here for “Best Hand Sanitizers of 2020” put out by Healthline.

We already warned about performing indoors in a classroom-sized or smaller area in Part 1. Though, what these rooms do have for many Kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms is a sink. Hand-washing has been proven to be MUCH more effective than hand sanitizer. So…if you are working with classroom students, then ask for the teacher to make sure they all wash their hands with soap before walking out of the classroom to the larger indoor or outdoor space.

For festival-sized events, you will want to purchase or rent portable hand washing stations with paper towels (NOT the cloth ring that gets re-used).

Even after this historic time, you may wish for a few of these stations to be part of your regular festival inventory. For example, the Utah Arts Festival has always had many of these portable hand washing stations near the portable toilets. This has always been a smart way for good hygiene. Click here for “Top 10 Portable Handwashing Stations” of 2020 that can be found on Amazon.

Back-up masks must be made available…even if you have already told your attendees to wear masks.

Well-intention audience members could forget. People who prefer not to wear masks could also arrive. You must be insistent and be firm and be willing to guide people in a loving way. Already discuss as an organization/individuals of what the policy would be if someone refuses to wear a mask. There are medical reasons…but rare.

Even someone with asthma can wear a mask. We allow if someone is on the spectrum for Autism or other mental needs. However, someone who purely refuses – despite knowing from all your advertising that masks are required – needs to be politely dismissed. Work out together on the right words to say in that moment.

You will also need to be clear that masks must cover the mouth and nose. Certainly not the chin or chin/barely-the-mouth. Any people who are monitoring the event (emcees, volunteers, etc.) need to know how to nicely remind people how to wear them. If someone is a repeated offender, then, again, know how to politely dismiss someone. It is better to be firm than lenient in this case. We have not experienced this level of refusal or inadequate wearing of masks yet…but have the verbal/mental preparation, if needed.

Discuss with your story artists on what they plan to do for masks.

Performers are allowed to take off their masks if all other safety measures are followed. The performers will still want to wear masks before and after…possibly during.

Many singers are loving the singer’s mask while in the Deaf community you see masks with a window covering so that facial expressions can be seen. Here is a link on how to make one while here are seven kinds one can purchase.

Remember that a face shield only works in combination with a mask.

Only wearing a face shield is not approved in certain buildings or workplaces due to the ineffective way to prevent as does the classic cloth mask. Click here is a study from researchers connected with Florida Atlantic University.

When it comes to sanitizing microphones, please make sure it happens.

People will cringe if there is an emcee followed by a performer and nothing has been done. Well, not everyone will cringe. We would!

We like the quick spray of the Lysol. Some people wipe down with Lysol wipes or something similar. As shared at the beginning of this post, we love the idea of the microphone and the air around it to be sanitized. You miss that part when it is only a wipe-down. If you are worried about stickiness, then you can wipe after the event is done. We have not seen any problems yet.

A microphone is practicaclly required now whether your event is indoors or outdoors. The rule before COVID was always have a microphone outside no matter the size of the audience.

We forgot our own rule when it came to our live Story Camp. We properly distanced the 15 youth (we could not no more than 20 at the park and that included the adults) that took up at least 2-3 classroom sizes. We did not bring a portable microphone. Our two facilitators/presenters had to project and we worried if their voices would last for three days of this camp. Somehow, their voices held. However, this is a different safety measure beyond sanitation: protecting the voices of your talented and valued performers.

The other microphone rule is to have a microphone indoors if there are at least 25 people. The fact that properly spacing 15 youth already takes up 2-3 classroom sizes, then the spacing alone means you need a microphone and a way you will sanitize between people.

Whether indoors or outdoors with a microphone, you will want the minimum 12 feet (or perhaps 13ish feet/4 meters) from the front row as already shared in Part 1.

But you ask, how do we best indicate to the audience of the spacing? What equipment do we need?

The following can work to give visual cues:

  • Wooden stakes, both 3′ and 1′ ones – found at hardware/home improvement stores and really affordable
  • Bright sports discs – used often by little league sports such as soccer and weaving balls around and such, we found a set of two discs for $1.00 at the dollar store and only spent $10 for 20 discs
  • Regular Safety Cones OR Collapsible Safety Cones (our favorites), bit of an investment) – more bulky than the sports discs but can still do the trick
  • Hula Hoops with Carrying Case (holds up to 12 per Case)– think of them like light-weight carpet squares that works whether you are a kid or an adult BUT expensive and ones found in dollar stores sometimes are too small OR the hula hoops are seasonal and found only at certain times of the year
  • Marking Spray Paint – find out if you have permission

By the way, if you do order any of these items on Amazon, please choose Smile Amazon instead and give back to our nonprofit, Story Crossroads.

Of all these options, we LOVED the bright sports discs and the wooden stakes. We cannot always use the wooden stakes or anything that would mark the grass.

With the Story Camp, it was held at the gorgeous International Peace Gardens in Salt Lake City, Utah. No staking or painting of any kind could be used. We used the bright sports discs…but a bit of warning. While setting up, the grounds crew was mowing the grass. We did not think they were mow towards us since we had the space officially reserved. The lawn mower ran over two of our discs before he realized what was happening. And this is why you need more than you need in any situation. We had extra and all was good. Except for bits of orange plastic everywhere. Glad we got that cleaned up before starting!

What of Liability Insurance?

No, we would never use our liability insurance to replace two orange discs worth $1.00.

When Story Crossroads first existed, we focused on special events liability insurance. Since 2018, we have general liability insurance so that it covers beyond our main festival in mid-May and any and all events we do as well as day-to-day volunteer work. Our liability insurance does not cover any vendors. They have their own signed agreement that either they prove to us that they have their own or sign a waiver to hold us harmless.

Yet, COVID-19 has brought up this topic on if it is covered. The answer? No.

When we renew our general liability insurance in February 2021, we will be curious to see if rates are suddenly much higher or there will be some mention of COVID within the policy or at least for an additional premium. For example, “acts of terrorism” is an optional coverage that became more prevalent after September 11, 2001 (also known as 9/11).

Whether free or for a cost, we have people read our Liability and Indemnity Agreement (COVID) and checkmark that it was read and understood. This is during our required pre-registration, which is easier to set-up with a paid registration service like our through Wild Apricot.

We have templates in Word and in PDF that you are welcome to adapt for your needs. These templates and other producer materials can be found here.

In Part 3, we will delve into test runs and set-ups using this equipment and best “backdrops” no matter if inside or outside.

You can make this live event happen. Think with logic and love. Enjoy the energy from a proper-distanced event.

Find our E-Newsletter and Email List Sign-Ups.

See our already-streamed/recorded The Big Why Panel: Historical Storytelling meets Humanities. See our 5-video playlist from the Story Crossroads Spectacular by clicking here.

Join us for our proper-distanced house concerts such as with Nannette Watts in West Jordan, UT on September 18, 2020…or get the recording afterwards.

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Story Crossroads fosters creative and compassionate communities through the art of storytelling. 501(c)(3)

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