More Than A Hi-Vis: Why You Need A Trained COVID Marshal

Want your venue or events space to stay safe and successful during the pandemic? A team of specialists can make it happen. 

You may have read our recent introduction to COVID Marshals What Is A COVID Marshal?. The concept is relatively broad: they might be a parking attendant or council worker, depending on where you look. 

Our COVID Marshals are a bit more unique. We’re trained in fire and rescue, and health and safety. We’re aware of the latest government guidance for your region. We can express things calmly to anyone, or spring to action in seconds. Simply put, we give you a much higher level of coronavirus confidence. 

But why do you need a Dependable Forces Marshal? Let us explain… 

Learn from ongoing risk assessments 

Our work begins with a complete environmental stress test. We’ll view your premises to gauge spacing, signage placement and testing capacity, as well as where to locate steriliser stations. We’ll then write up a full report of what you do well and what we’ll improve on. 

But that’s just the very first report. We’ll give daily, weekly and monthly updates too. These form a continuous compliance record: something you can show anyone looking into your COVID-safe procedures. Emergency incidents are also logged, meaning you get a full paper trail. 

Have eyes on the ground, everywhere 

Marshals move around. We watch for crowding and congestion. We’re in your corridors, stairways and main event spaces. The more you have, the wider our presence is – and the more you’re able to let your staff focus on taking tickets, names, cash or coats. 

COVID Marshals can have the absolute best overview of your guests. If something’s wrong, and people aren’t following the rules, we solve it instantly. That extends to things like checking you have enough sanitiser at entry points, toilets and seating areas too. 

Make up for staff shortages 

That being said, we can fit almost any role that you require. You can even ask for Marshals to join your ticketing or door staff. Remember: we’ve been trained in emergency response. That means crowd control and security never phase us. 

This is particularly useful if your regular team members have to self-isolate. You know as well as we do that 10 or 14 days out of work can come at very short notice. COVID Marshals can fill their shoes, while ensuring the rest of your workforce has the right PPE to keep further infection down as much as we can. 

Communicate well – without harming the experience 

Running an event during times like these requires tact, subtlety and the ability to be firm without intimidating people. You’re treading a tightrope every night. Fail to explain what attendees must do, and you’ll breach guidelines; shout or patronise them, and the good vibes slip away. So the trick is being able to do both: talk to and guide your guests clearly, without trampling on what makes your event worth coming to. 

Dependable Forces grew organically from the events business Who Are Dependable Forces?. We matched insider knowledge with trained emergency professionals. It’s a mix you won’t find anywhere else. And that’s the secret to pulling off the experience you work so carefully to build, even if it’s on ground you aren’t used to. 

There’s more to say, of course. We’d be happy to chat through how one of our COVID Marshals can safeguard guests at your venue or upcoming event. Speak to the team today.

When Events Get COVID Wrong

The Cost Of No Precaution: When Events Get COVID Wrong 

The threat of the pandemic is everywhere. But with job losses and financial debt taking a huge toll on the British events sector, something needs to change. 

COVID-secure experiences are the way forward – and they can happen. We’re preparing venues for safe, well-distanced audiences so that they can flourish again, albeit a little differently than before.

Yet some events have been a masterclass in what not to do. They act as a great lesson for the price of bad preparation. Read on for a few examples of poor coronavirus tactics that harmed a brand, an experience and someone’s bottom line . . .

Grand Park Hall, Luton 

Under the old Tier 1 rules, weddings in Luton could welcome up to 30 guests. Receptions had to be strict, sit-down affairs. They also had to take place in a public venue – no private weddings allowed. 

Despite this guidance, the Grand Park Hall opened its doors to reportedly over 100 people on the 23rd September. With a max 550 capacity between two floors, there may have been space for a COVID-safe gathering, but the venue was operating as normal. 

It didn’t go unnoticed. Police were called and sent everyone home. The Grand Park’s owner was hit with a £10,000 fine before being ordered to close by Luton Council. 

According to the hotel’s Facebook page, they only hosted 67 people, and tried to cut numbers down to the safe limit after speaking to officers. But they were “overwhelmed” by security breaches. 

Manchester Marathon, Manchester  

The London Marathon still managed to go ahead this year. Direct attendance was limited to professional athletes, while other runners were encouraged to pick their own 26.2-mile course. 

It was a triumph of independence and sporting spirit, connecting fans online as they shared their own stories. Elite runners used a buzzing device to maintain social distance, racing in a biosecure bubble in St. James’s Park. 

However, the Manchester Marathon was cancelled altogether. Organisers weren’t ready to launch similar measures or feed people into the event via an app or relevant webpage. There was no plan for a physical environment that could let elite competitors, at least, do what they do best. 

It just shows how much technology, forethought and innovation – supported by interactive participation around the main event What Does The Return To Events Really Look Like? – can make or break a concept. 

The Chainsmokers’ concert, New York  

It was supposed to be a drive-through gig. There was enough space for 600 cars. Electro duo The Chainsmokers were performing for charity, with tickets going for $25,000. But the audience quickly got out of hand. 

Videos from the show reveal close crowding and dancing, as well as a distinct lack of COVID Marshals. Governor Andrew Cuomo was quick to condemn the performance. “All the rules were being violated,” he said in a conference call shortly after retweeting the footage.

Cuomo directed his ire at the organiser, In The Know Experiences, and the local New York state council who approved permits. The Department of Health launched an investigation into their activity. 

This could all have been avoided with proper crowd control. Marshals are a great deterrent What Is A COVID Marshal? – both because of their physical presence, and the fact that they can clearly communicate the rules to whoever needs to hear them.  

Iroko Lounge, Southampton

Described as the “worst breach of COVID rules” across the Isle of Wight and Hampshire, the Iroko Lounge restaurant greeted over 100 guests for a late-night party. It was similar to the Grand Park Hall but far more extreme. Police couldn’t even enter. The crowd was too thick and boisterous, with music, disco lights and laughing gas exacerbating the security challenges. 

A local paper cited “no evidence of social distancing, no COVID-19 risk assessment” and a complete lack of track and trace. The man in charge said it was a private party. The group blocked the road so more police couldn’t arrive, and refused to disperse. 

Quite obviously, the venue wasn’t big enough. But much more could have been done. Spacing is strategic in these situations – where people queue, dance and congregate can be managed with environmental markers and barriers. Meanwhile, rapid on-site testing Rapid Testing Is Coming – Here’s What You Need To Know (along with temperature checks) can add extra certainty for a coronavirus-free evening. 

The Lounge’s failure shows that simply partying indoors, late and somewhere no one expects, isn’t safe – and it won’t stop you from getting in trouble either. 

We only highlight these examples so that we can learn from them. The moral of the story is: don’t risk an event unless you’re doubly, triply sure that you’re doing all you can. The alternative can cause a significant hit to your finances and reputation. 


Talk to Dependable Forces about your 2021 event plans. We can advise on what to do for complete COVID safety, whilst keeping your experience flowing smoothly.

What Does The Return To Events Really Look Like?

With some vaccines already being deployed – and many more in development – to fight the coronavirus, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the events scene will return to normal in 2021. 

But in reality, a vaccine can’t solve our problems overnight. Or even in a matter of months. In the words of David Salisbury, former Director of Immunisation at the Department of Health, we’re going to be “vaccine plus” for the time being. Distancing and hygiene must play a role until the virus becomes less deadly or the vast majority of the UK receive their COVID-19 shot. 

This begs the question: what will the near-future look like for promoters, performers and audiences? Join us as we dissect the real state of events to come.

Clear distancing rules

The two-metre rule isn’t going away. Crowds will have to comply and adjust. 

If you want to reopen a venue, you’ll need to think about any environmental strategies to reduce contact, queueing and congestion. Floor lanes must be marked. Signage should support it. You may have to limit close seating or erect screens between them. Unfortunately, capacity will suffer, which means ticket prices could rise.

More marshals for outdoor events

It’s easy to assume that open-air gigs and festivals are the answer. Yet distancing measures will be harder to enforce; people are more likely to wander around, bump into each other,  and breach protocols. 

The Forty-Five sums it up best: “events that are normally the opposite of orderly and calm” will be ripe for reimagining. Appointing COVID Marshals What Is A COVID Marshal? is one tactic that will make a big difference. They can keep an eye on behaviour and remind ticket holders of their responsibility to each other.

Satellite and hybrid experiences

We’re all so used to Zoom meetings and bedroom gigs that organisers may want to experiment with half-physical, half-digital programming. A spot on a conference, panel talk or show can be sold at a regular price for actual attendees, and at a discounted cost for those watching at home. 

Meanwhile, there’s a strong case for putting on satellite events around the main event – in other words, smaller gatherings that are localised and tied to your theme. Streaming and social media can connect audiences from different cities (and even countries) so they feel part of the grander experience. 

Smaller stage acts

Distancing may affect some performances too. Euro News has touched on the fact that we may see a reduction in the performances of orchestras, troupes and large ensembles unless there’s a stage large enough to keep them sufficiently apart. 

Instead, expect to see more duos and trios in the concert space. Creative acts will have to scale down or rethink their arrangements to comply with distancing rules whilst continuing to deliver value for money. And what about organisers? Festivals, theatres and cultural events must also fall in line without losing their magic. We understand the rules are ever-changing. So we’re here to help you navigate health and safety procedures, wherever and whenever they shift.

Mass testing and vaccine checks

15-minute tests hold massive potential for the events industry. We’ve already written about the great strides taken by Liverpool as a UK test model Rapid Testing Is Coming. 

While these tests only detect the amount of the virus in your body at a given time (making them less reliable when the virus is dormant), they can identify ticket holders who are infectious. This is good news when we look at the “potential ideas” proposed by sites like Ticketmaster, such as verifying that an audience member has been vaccinated or has tested negative before allowing their entry to the event. 

Whatever the future holds, Dependable Forces are here to make your return to events as safe, secure, and yet as spellbinding for your audiences as ever. Attendees will take a little while to feel confident again. But we’re ready with detailed risk assessments, on-site assistance, and our fingers firmly on the pulse of changing COVID-19 rules. 

Talk to us for more details about our training programmes, compliance checks and safety marshal cover.

Rapid Testing Is Coming

Here’s What You Need To Know

Can you run an event safely without affecting the experience? 

It’s one of the key questions to come out of the pandemic – how to prepare for the return to public venues in a way that retains all the magic, while ensuring that one superspreader won’t bring down your reputation.

Until recently, this was almost unthinkable for large crowds. But rapid testing is bringing hope to event organisers. The ability to know, in minutes rather than days, whether every attendee is COVID-free is a game-changer for the industry.

So how quickly can we expect these near-instant tests? Let’s take a closer look…

The breakthrough trial

Viennese students made world headlines when they enrolled in a mass testing programme back in September. It was scheduled for two days at the Austria Centre Vienna, which had lost between €400 million and €500 million in revenue.

Medics took the throat swabs of 2,000 young Austrians, applying a number of droplets to a cassette – almost like a pregnancy test – before displaying them on a chemical strip. Results arrived in 15 minutes; no lab required. The trial revealed five positive cases. Paramedics were on standby to help and isolate those people. It was a huge success. 

Then, as the virus’ second wave mounted, European Council President Charles Michel called for unity on rapid testing, something that “could restore the free movement of people”. One by one, countries (including ours) snapped up tens of millions of quick-test kits. 

Liverpool’s national lead

In early November, Liverpool became the UK’s first mass testing trial. 2,000 military personnel joined doctors, nurses and other specialists to carry out as many tests in the city as they could. It didn’t matter whether you felt sick or not. Everyone was eligible. 

Three weeks later, 200,000 out of a population greater than 500,000 had been swabbed. Out of those, 96,000 were given rapid tests. 842 positive cases were confirmed. Cases then dropped by two thirds, prompting Health Secretary Matt Hancock to hail Liverpool’s “remarkable decline”. 

What happened next? Well, as surrounding boroughs caught up, positive tests passed 1,000. The programme continued to roll out to St Helens, the Wirral and other areas. It became a clear signpost for success. And soon, more COVID-secure specialists – like us – will have access to our own kits.

What to bear in mind for your own business

Now you know about the background, here’s some useful info for exploring rapid testing yourself: 

PCR swabs are the go-to

This is the fastest way to check for COVID-19. Antibody tests, by contrast, rely on blood samples and can take several hours or a few days to show results. PCR is definitely the method of choice. But with more speed comes slightly less accuracy. We recommend taking two swabs per attendee, just to be sure. 

Private, quick-test kits are already available

You can buy a rapid testing kit today. Many suppliers, from AlphaBiolabs to Praxisdienst, aren’t short on stock. Contact them to ask about bulk deals.

Prices are going down fast 

Retailers like Boots and Lloyds Pharmacy are charging upwards of £100 per test – but this is for the more intensive treatment that relies on complex machines. Swab kits are starting to enter the market at £25 to £30. They’ll likely continue to fall as demand grows. 

Above all, the trick for a venue or business is conducting these tests with confidence on the day. You have to be absolutely sure that testing can continue safely without disrupting the atmosphere you’ve worked so hard to build.

We may have some more information on that soon. Speak to us about any testing concerns. We’re trained in the latest medical know-how and government advice, and are here to ensure that any space can reopen securely and compliantly. 

What is a COVID Marshal

If you want to get your premises back up and running right now, you need a COVID Marshal. They have the awareness, knowledge and confidence to make sure your visitors and staff actively follow the latest rules and restrictions. 

And who needs a COVID Marshal? 

Practically every customer-facing business. But the venues and events industry most of all… 

Join us as we examine this new professional service – and how we’re taking things a step further.

The basics of a COVID Marshal

Simply put, a standard COVID Marshal is anyone hired to keep the spread of coronavirus down. They monitor distancing, queueing and even hygiene procedures. They also remind people which guidelines they should be sticking to. 

Councils around the country are hiring their own Marshals, using a £60 million government package announced in October. Until recently, it’s been confined to the public sector: wardens, groundskeepers and council workers, who don’t need specific training beyond general COVID safety. 

But more private-hire COVID Marshals are cropping up. Businesses are recognising the need for this support – the need for someone who can watch over their attendees and step in to solve any problems should they occur.

What to expect from a regular Marshal

There are certain duties that a COVID Marshal can fulfill: 

  • Check and enforce social distancing 
  • Set up compliant queue lanes 
  • Ask people to use face masks, if they aren’t wearing one and aren’t exempt
  • Help with cleaning railings, counters, handles, seats and tables
  • Provide guidance on what to do and where to go
  • Liaise with the police if someone flouts the rules consistently 

They patrol, sanitise and support everything you’re doing on the day. But this is just the beginning. We wanted to bring a next-level COVID Marshal service to UK businesses, based on our extensive health, safety and emergency response skills.

What we bring to COVID Marshals

Dependable Forces are recognised fire safety experts. We have OSHCR and IOSH credentials, as well as access to over 250 trained Marshals around the country. Yet we’re also experts in the events trade. We can act under pressure whilst ensuring your occasion goes seamlessly, and that all the right COVID-19 prevention measures are in place. 

Our COVID Marshals will also:

  • Conduct audits and risk assessments 
  • Improve and prepare your space in line with local rules and guidelines 
  • Train your own staff on COVID-19 prevention best practices
  • Calibrate temperature checkers in advance 
  • Scan temperatures, take tickets and hand out wristbands
  • Help with entry and evacuation
  • Intervene if we have to (including using First Aid)
  • Provide daily, weekly and monthly reports for you

With us, everything’s clear and under control. That means that you can stay open and profitable. Our service is way more than a figure in a hi-vis jacket – we’re a thorough, forward-thinking team that’s ready to do what it takes to help the hospitality and events sector get back up and running. To us, it’s what the industry really deserves.

You can find out more about Dependable Forces here Who Are Dependable Forces?. But if you’re still wondering why you should call us, look out for Part 2 of our COVID Marshal explainer article. We’ll be tackling all the benefits in greater detail.

Who Are Dependable Forces?

Everything we thought we knew about events and venue control has been scattered to the four winds. Right now – and post-pandemic – businesses don’t just have to follow a much bigger rulebook. The book itself keeps changing. 

There’s a delicate line to walk too: can you implement the rules without spoiling the atmosphere you’ve worked so hard to build? 

Overcrowding and poor safety measures could already harm events. Now they’re a matter of government policy. To navigate these changes and avoid becoming a cautionary tale,  organisers and venues need a calm, confident force for compliance.

Dependable Forces are a seasoned team of professionals who not only come from the events industry, but have the skills and wherewithal to think on our feet, step in and act fast. With us, you’re in good hands – and not just for COVID-era checks. For any event you run. 

Can we introduce ourselves?

Who we are

We emerged when the founders of emc3 (an award-winning events brand) and TEAM Safety Services (an accredited health, safety and fire consultancy) joined forces. emc3 are renowned for their high-concept, end-to-end events management. TEAM, meanwhile, bring the specialist risk awareness. They’ve now pooled their insider knowledge of the events industry with essential compliance expertise.

Dependable Forces founder Ellis was in the fire service for 20 years. His business partner, Tony, is a chartered member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health. Together, we wanted to help events organisers find a way of managing risks and regulations, without taking away from the experience they want to deliver. 

Today, we’ve amassed over 750 first responders around the UK. They combine emergency training and response with a first-hand understanding of the events sector.

What we do

The crux of our work is planning and delivering a safe event in line with the latest government guidelines. This enables you to focus on creating an effortless experience – whatever the circumstances.

Our work involves four key stages: 

Conduct a risk assessment – We look at location, context and local virus transmission rates. Everything’s held against the prospect of general safety as well as measures that are unique to COVID-19. 

Build an event strategy – This gauges the physical prep involved (including spacing, partitions, marked floor lanes and hand sanitiser), as well as how we’ll manage the flow of attendees (such as through main access routes, encouraging online registration, communicating the message, or limiting crowds with a ‘hybrid’ event model). We’ll put all of the right equipment in place, like masks and temperature checkers, while sourcing your suppliers’ H&S documentation. 

Ensure event delivery Beforehand, we’ll train your staff in the latest hygiene and distancing techniques. Then, on the day itself, we’ll have a physical presence. Our trained COVID Marshals keep an eye on everybody, making sure they’re sticking to the guidelines. We can advise, direct and reinforce what has to happen for you to stay compliant. Any incidents? We’ll step in immediately. 

Provide a post-event analysis – This reviews every control measure that we implemented. We also feed in attendee comments: what they thought about the event, what they wanted to see from its safety procedures, etc. Plus, we learn whether anyone developed symptoms on-site. If they did, we’ll tell the relevant health authority. All findings are shared with you, providing learnings for the future.

As you can see, our support is so much more than a risk assessment or hi-vis jacket. Dependable Forces offers a hands-on service: a pair of extra-vigilant eyes in the background, ready to act when needed. Yet we don’t tread on any toes; the event runs without stress or intrusion.

Get back on your feet in the right way

We’ll explain more about our COVID Marshals soon. For now, rest assured that we’re here for you and your audience. So put on a show. Start pouring the drinks. Earn again. We’ll be there, to one side, helping it happen without ever drawing attention from the spectacle. 

All it takes is a quick call with our experts

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We are a collective of Health & Safety, Fire Safety and Events Experts with over 70 years combined industry experience.

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