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Events, mass gatherings, and places of public assembly. Can traditional views and tools for crowd management assist in implementing non-pharmaceutical interventions to prevent the transfer of respiratory viruses such as COVID-19?

Publiciatie 19-04-2021

Deze publicatie betreft de Master Thesis waarmee Bert Bruyninckx met onderscheiding de MSc Crowd Safety and Risk Analysis aan Manchester Metropolitan University heeft afgerond.

In 2020 the world was struck by the covid-19 pandemic, and in many places, society came to a standstill. Mass gatherings and events were cancelled, and places of public assembly became of interest to those managing public health. In expectation of a medicine or vaccine, under the guidance of the WHO, the world has adopted three main non-pharmaceutical interventions (1) physical distancing, Personal Protection Equipment such as face coverings, and (3) hygiene. The interventions are embedded in legislation throughout the world. Legislation and regulation, however, did not include the ‘how’. Government guidance on how to achieve or facilitate distancing, the use of PPE’s and strong hygiene is limited.
These non-pharmaceutical interventions are behavioural interventions. Physical distancing touches the field of crowd management. The area assigned to an individual and the organisation of public places is the common ground between crowd management and physical distancing.
This research aims to determine if the traditional elements of crowd management and the tools to manage crowds are useful in coping with the possible transfer of respiratory viruses on events, mass gatherings and places of public assembly. Expert interviews aimed to investigate how crowd managers implement the concept of physical distancing in their operations under covid-19.
Covid-19 and the need to plan for physical distancing did not affect the way crowd management was practised. The traditional theories still stand, and the same tools are used. The change is in the underlying variables of the tools. Physical distancing meddles with density and the area needed per person. Embedding these new thresholds based on the distancing value as laid out by government makes the traditional crowd management tools covid proof. Otherwise, trivial processes and event facilities became of interest. The entire customer journey has become the field of the crowd manager.
The research has resulted in a systematic approach for those managing events, mass gatherings and places of public assembly. This ‘Covid Concept Planning Process’ embeds traditional risk analysis methods and pedestrian panning and takes the user step by step to the development of measures to cope with physical distancing. With each step, crowd management tools are suggested.

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