In the next of our series of blogs looking ahead to reopening, we caught up with Tony Magnante, Building Operations Manager and Alan Shilstone, Operations Executive. They share the latest on their preparations for making the QEII Centre ready to host events post covid-19 and highlight the key changes that have taken place over the summer.
How are the re-opening preparations going?
The preparations are going very well as we started the Covid-19 response measures at a very early stage. We have had to be consultative in our approach, not only collating input and feedback from teams within the Centre but also peers across the industry as we are facing an unprecedented situation and are all going through this together.
We have of course been closely monitoring Government guidance and adapting our processes in accordance with this but with nearly two months until business events can restart we know this can still change. Once staff and clients return to the Centre for show rounds, first aid training etc., we will be able to collate further feedback and make any further adjustments if required.
What are the most significant changes to the building?
To ensure we are adhering to the guidelines and making the delegate experience as smooth as possible, we have made a number of important changes. Visually the Centre, is unrecognisable from our last event with laminated wall and vinyl floor signage to ensure physical distancing can be maintained. It can be found throughout the Centre and includes the lifts, fire escapes, cloakroom, video wall and toilets as well as the back of house areas.
Thermo-scanners have been installed at every entry point to the building, so staff, clients and delegates will all have their body temperature assessed to ensure they don’t have a fever. Whilst sanitisers are also set up at the entrances and are available throughout the building.
We have also made changes to the back office areas, where we have a supply of PPE and face coverings available to staff and contractors. Additionally, both alcohol and non-alcohol-based sanitising solutions and dispensers, an innovative 360° electrostatic cleaning solution is now being used and we are working with specialist hazardous waste contractors to ensure all used PPE is properly disposed of.
What have you enjoyed most about the preparations for reopening?
Prior to lockdown, the Centre had plans in place for a number of upgrades, which in some cases we have now been able to bring forward including the Mechanical and Engineering and fabric works projects (mentioned below). It has meant that this has been a really interesting and varied period for us as we have been implementing these alongside the covid-19 measures.
It has been thoroughly enjoyable to project manage our statutory compliance obligations such as the annual Black Building Test – which is always a challenge, a major upgrade to our Fire Alarm and Emergency Lighting Systems and fulfilling our Fire Risk Assessment recommendations in order to lower our risk rating, which includes the repair and maintenance of over 200 Fire Doors. We have also been very busy ensuring all our electrical appliances and equipment is safe and have successfully PAT tested over 6,000 units.
We have also made considerable contributions to policy documents and have set up the Health and safety training matrix for staff, which will enhance their knowledge. Along with the changes to the building that have been made in line with Government guidelines, both the venue and our staff are ready to deliver safe and compliant events.
What have been the biggest challenges?
We have been very fortunate that the Operations teams (especially the Director and Managers who have been on site) and contractor supply chain been very supportive of what we have been doing and assisting us as required. This has enabled us to manage the workload that has increased in the run up to re-opening.
The biggest challenge has undoubtedly been ensuring that we have correctly followed all Government guidance for safe re-opening. We believe that we have gone over and above this not only with the signage throughout the Centre but the process in place in to ensure no contamination of items in the cloakroom, the sneeze screens, thermal scanners and sanitisers.
What is your advice for clients and delegates when they return to the building?
We have implemented all the necessary measures to run a safe event under the covid-19 requirements. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be able to provide photographs of the measures that have been taken via our social media channels and showrounds are resuming from 17th August. Whether you are a new or existing client, we would be delighted to show you these measures in person and offer you the reassurance that we are ready to host events.