When events are run with people more spread out (socially-distanced) than normal, and with other COVID-19 precautions, you might need a PA system to help.
As a speaker or presenter, you might need to be heard over a larger area than before. For the same number of people, you may need bigger room than back in 2019. Increased ventilation or open windows may also make it a little harder for your guests to hear. A decent PA system will help you stay heard, provided it’s properly set up.
Some events are moving outside, and those that were always outside may need increased room for separation, spaced queuing, and so on.
Outdoor PA systems tend either to be high-powered full-range systems, or distributed systems based on waterproof PA horns.
Full-range systems often need rain cover and a decent power supply. They sound good, but they’re more expensive. They’re your only real option for music.
The systems using distributed waterproof PA horns are typically used to cover large areas (think races and show-ground arenas). They’re great for speech. If you need to get a message across over a large area, they’re efficient for that, whatever the weather.
There are some adaptations that help with infection control when using a PA system. Microphones can be a transmission path for COVID-19, given that they can be held and worn by more than one individual. Here are some mitigations for that.
- If you’re indoors and you don’t need to move about much, fixed microphones on a table or lectern should do fine for most people. This completely avoids contact.
- If you need a hand-held microphone, it should be possible to arrange for each person to keep their own mic for the duration of the event, in many cases. Prior to the event, those microphones can be sanitised and/or quarantined.
- Where hand-held microphones do need to be shared, they can be sanitised and/or have fresh foam windscreens placed over the top.
- For headset microphones, these will need to be sanitised and/or quarantined due to being in physical contact. You may be invited to fit your own, under instruction, to avoid close contact.
Events in Devon
Devon has some fantastic event venues. It could be worth picking one that gives you options of indoor and outdoors areas. Ventilation, shade and space can all help with comfort.
You can work through your risk-assessment and event plans with your PA system provider, and they should help you with ideas and support.
It’s also worth discussing what happens if you need to postpone or cancel the event. Will you incur costs?
Flexibility and contingency planning is probably the best way to avoid cancelling your event. If you can have it indoors, outdoors or online – or a hybrid of those – your investment is less likely to be wasted.