Our Decision to Host OKiCon:
Our parent company, Fandom Events, manages multiple comic and anime conventions in Texas and Oklahoma. Due to the COVID pandemic and following shutdown, we immediately followed federal, state, and local guidelines to postpone all events until 2021 pending updates from those agencies.
Based on the Federal Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, and the Open Up & Recover Safely (OURS) Plan, which was a three-phased approach on the advice of public health experts, we understood that reopening our events would be determined by state and local officials. As we approached the 90 day mark before the scheduled weekend of our event, we reviewed guidelines from the Governor of Oklahoma’s office. Their evaluation of Oklahoma satisfied criteria to progress through the reopening phases.
As of June 1st, 2020, Oklahoma transitioned to Phase 3. The OURS Plan, which was based on scientific modeling from public health experts and intended to mitigate risk of resurgence, protect Oklahoma’s most vulnerable citizens from the threat of COVID-19, and for businesses and individuals to utilize in conjunction with guidance from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, the Oklahoma State Health Department, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), declared Oklahoma currently is “open for business.” This includes indoor and outdoor events, such as OKiCon, and we are utilizing the “Guidance for Oklahoma’s Open Up and Recover Safely Plan: Festivals & Fairs” document as a baseline for mitigating the risk of exposure to attendees, volunteers, and exhibitors.
As a company, Fandom Events continues to adhere to State and local guidance as well as complementary CDC guidance, particularly with respect to face coverings. We will require social distancing, face coverings at our events, encourage attendees to wash their hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer, especially after touching frequently used items or surfaces, avoid touching their face, and sneeze or cough into a tissue or the inside of their elbow. We, along with the host property, the Embassy Suites Norman Hotel & Conference Center, will disinfect frequently used items and surfaces as much as possible.
OKiCon and Fandom Events will continue to follow guidelines set by federal, state, and local authorities, which may include the scaling back or shutdown of large scale venues. We continually rely on guidance from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, and the Oklahoma State Health Department, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). We are committed to doing our part to ensure the safety of all Oklahomans.
CDC steps and guidelines for large events
The Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC) released guidance to assist businesses in making decisions regarding reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic. Besides continuing to follow the recommendations issued by federal, state, and local health departments when determining the most appropriate actions to take, OKiCon has focused on these five steps:
1. According to the CDC guidance, we have considered three questions when deciding whether to reopen:
Are we in a community no longer requiring significant mitigation?
Yes - our member demographics are some of the lowest subset affected by COVID.
Will reopening be in compliance with state and local orders?
Yes - we will fully comply with The City of Norman and the State of Oklahoma.
Will we be ready to protect participants at higher risk for severe illness?
Any participant at a higher risk is encouraged to enjoy OKiCon with a virtual membership.
2. Taking Recommended Safety Actions
Promoting healthy hygiene practices;
Intensifying cleaning, disinfection daily before, during, and after event hours
Affordable event face coverings and numerous sanitation stations
If social distancing continues, OKiCon will stagger lines to 6 feet per person and require face coverings for all participants
Training all staff and volunteers in the above safety actions.
3. Implementing Safeguards For Participants
Encouraging staff, members, exhibitors, and guests who are sick to stay home;
Establishing routine, daily employee health checks the week of the event and during the weekend;
Creating and testing emergency communication channels for staff; and
Establishing communication with state and local health authorities.
4. Preparing Our Physical Event Space
The final step involves partnering with the Embassy Suites Norman Hotel & Conference Center to prepare our physical venue for attendees, whom we refer to as Members. The CDC has released guidance for cleaning and disinfecting public spaces, workplaces, businesses, schools, and homes.
We have reviewed this guidance when implementing cleaning procedures at our facilities after shelter-in-place orders are lifted. For example, for outdoor areas, we will maintain existing cleaning practices.
For indoor areas that have been occupied within the last seven days, the CDC recommends that frequently touched surfaces and objects made of hard and non-porous materials (glass, metal, or plastic) be cleaned and disinfected more frequently. Frequently touched surfaces and objects made of soft and porous materials, such as carpet, rugs, or material in seating areas, will be thoroughly cleaned or laundered. If possible, the CDC recommends considering removing soft and porous materials in high traffic areas. Surfaces and objects that are not frequently touched will be cleaned on a routine basis.
5. Maintain Vigilance
Our work is not completed once we open our doors and welcome back our members, exhibitors, and celebrity guests. OKiCon and the Embassy Suites Norman will maintain routine cleaning and disinfection procedures after reopening to reduce the potential for exposure. Finally, we will continue to monitor COVID-19 in our area, and if necessary, be prepared to close our facilities quickly if another outbreak occurs.
Steps to Plan, Prepare, and Proceed with a Mass Gathering
The details of our emergency operations plan are based on the size and duration of our event, demographics of the participants, complexity of our event operations, and type of on-site services and activities provided by the State of Oklahoma, the City of Norman, and the Embassy Suites Norman Hotel & Conference Center.
OKiCon will review the emergency operations documents provided by the State of Oklahoma, the City of Norman, and the event team at the Embassy Suites Norman to discuss the emergency operations plans and determine how they may impact aspects of our event, such as personnel, security, services and activities, functions, and resources.
We will work with the emergency operations coordinator or planning team to prepare for the key prevention strategies outlined in the CDC guidance and develop a contingency plan that addresses various scenarios which we may encounter during the conclusion of the COVID-19 outbreak.
OKiCon will establish relationships with key community partners and stakeholders in Norman to form key relationships for our events and include relevant partners such as the City of Norman's public health department, community leaders, vendors, suppliers, hospitals, the Embassy Suites Norman, airlines, transportation companies, and law enforcement.
OKiCon will collaborate and coordinate with them on broader planning efforts and clearly identify each partner’s role, responsibilities, and decision-making authority. OKiCon will contact the City of Norman's public health department for a copy of their outbreak response and mitigation plan for our community, and if necessary, participate in community-wide emergency preparedness activities.
OKiCon will promote the daily practice of everyday preventive actions by using health messages and materials developed by credible public health sources such as CDC or our local public health department to encourage our event staff and participants to practice good personal health habits.
OKiCon will display signs (physical and/or electronic) throughout the event to provide frequent reminders to participants to engage in everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Mandatory face coverings if issued by venue, local, or state guidelines.
Stay home when you are sick or in a higher risk group and enjoy OKiCon via a Virtual Membership.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Hand Sanitizer stations will be placed frequently throughout the venue.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
OKiCon and the Embassy Suites Norman will clean frequently-touched surfaces and objects daily.
Maintain appropriate social distancing and limit physical contact. Now is a great time to practice ojigi , or bowing!
OKiCon and the Embassy Suites Norman will provide COVID-19 prevention supplies to event staff and participants.
Examples include hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, tissues, trash baskets, disposable face-masks, and cleaners and disinfectants. OKiCon will clean frequently touched-surfaces and objects with detergent and water prior to disinfection, especially surfaces that are visibly dirty.
The Embassy Suites Norman will routinely clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are frequently touched.
Note: Any participant who shows signs of illness may be asked to have their temperature taken and asked to leave the event with their membership transferred to a virtual membership.
Note: People in higher-risk groups should consult with their healthcare provider about attending large events such as OKiCon and should consider purchasing a virtual membership.
OKiCon will discourage people who are sick from attending in person. This will include electronic messages sent to attendees prior to travel to the event as well as messages requesting that people leave if they begin to have symptoms of COVID-19, which include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Attendees should be encouraged to seek medical advice promptly by calling ahead to a doctor’s office or emergency room to get guidance.
If any participant becomes sick at our event, we will separate them from others and require them to leave the event as soon as possible.
OKiCon will work with the local public health department and nearby hospitals to care for those who become sick. If needed, contact emergency services for those who need emergency care. Public transportation, shared rides, and taxis should be avoided for sick persons, and disposable face-masks should be worn by persons who are sick at all times when in a vehicle. Read more about preventing the spread of COVID-19 if someone is sick.
Note: Providing an event participant with a disposable face-mask to wear does not replace the need for that person to leave as soon as possible, stay home, and seek medical advice. Wearing a disposable face-mask in while participating in a large event such as OKiCon is not a sufficient infection control measure.
OKiCon will work closely with local public health officials to assess local capacities in the area. During a COVID-19 outbreak, resource limitations among local healthcare systems and/or law enforcement can influence the decision to postpone or cancel our event., and OKiCon will provide a virtual membership option.
CDC Gatherings and Community Events -
CDC's Promoting Healthy Behaviors that Reduce Spread -
CDC Activities and Initiatives Supporting the COVID-19 Response and the President’s Plan for Opening America Up Again -
Event Planning and COVID-19: Questions and Answers -
Guidance for Oklahoma’s Open Up and Recover Safely Plan: Festivals & Fairs -
Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), May 2020 -
Opening Up America Again -
Open Up & Recover Safely (OURS) Plan -