Vital Venue Contract Must-Haves During COVID-19

As the country continues to make strides to slow the spread of coronavirus, ensure the safety of its communities, and begin the reopening of the economy, many industries are brainstorming ways to continue operations while being sensitive to the times. While businesses and venues are awaiting regulation rollouts from the state, venue contracts are still being drafted and signed for events later this year and early to mid-2021. Event planners are now juggling health and safety precautions for their client’s attendees as well as possible legal recourse due to the unpredictable outcome of COVID-19.

Event regulations regarding guest distancing, venue capacity, table configurations, food service, and cleaning measures still being assessed. When drafting upcoming event contracts with venues and hotels, there are key clauses that will need to be adjusted and additional precautions added.

Innovate Marketing Group has outlined these key clauses with tips on what to include in your future venue and hotel contracts.

Force Majeure (Acts of God/War): Force Majeure describes an event that is outside of human control. Within contractual relations, this clause limits liability for both parties regarding cancellations, damages,
losses, or injuries due to an extraordinary event or circumstance. Common events stated in these clauses often include acts of God, war, natural disasters, strikes, civil disorder, and curtailment of transportation facilities. In the wake of COVID-19, it is now imperative to include ‘Pandemic’, ‘Outbreak’, and ‘Government Regulations’ to this clause. This will free both parties of liability for a future outbreak of this nature. This is especially recommended as the scientific proof of the second wave of COVID-19
continues to rise.

Cancellation and Refunds: We recommend adjusting the Cancellation clause of future contracts in favor of the current situation. Venue contracts should allow clients to cancel on these terms:
• Leniency to cancel and shift event date to the following year without penalty.
• Cancellation due to legal restrictions and state regulations.
• Client’s concerns regarding health and safety risks involving their event attendees.

In the case of cancellation or postponement, deposits should be adjusted to 100% percent refundable.

Capacity: With state regulations regarding room capacity for events still being assessed, we recommend projecting a 50% capacity restriction for all venues and hotels. Due to table distancing, venues will no longer be able to accommodate their typical capacity or capacity originally stated. The venue/hotel should advise the client of new configurations and adjustments based on these new regulations. If the venue/hotel is unable to accommodate based on the new state-issued regulations, the client should be released of the contract and financial obligations without penalty.

Food and Beverage: All food and beverage services will be adjusted in accordance with the state’s COVID-19 safe distancing regulations. If the venue/hotel is unable to adjust their services in favor of the safe distancing regulations the client should be released of the contract and financial obligations without penalty. As these new Food and Beverage regulations are still being determined, IMG recommends:
• Non-waited food service
• Pre-plated and Pre-packaged meals with covers
• Disposable plates, glasses, and cutlery
• Table configurations that promote 6-feet social distance

Aside from the protections and legal precautions outlined in these clauses it is also imperative to be notified of how the venue is promoting health and safety during these times. Ask these questions:
• How has your venue increased the importance of cleanliness, sanitation, and hygiene in the
wake of COVID-19?
• How is your staff promoting health and safety?
• Do you have a contingency plan in place in case a guest appears to be ill?
• How many sanitation stations are in place and can we request to add more?
• How has your venue prepared for large events and an influx of guests in the future?
• Is the venue equipped to check fevers upon entry?