Co-creating a post-lockdown live event protocol

Hi everyone,

While some of us are still running online events, I think we all hope to move back to physical events eventually. Given that we are all in the same situation, is there anyone else interested in co-creating a protocol/approach to use while we need to reduce contamination spread?

Whether we do this here on the forum, a shared document or (yet another!) video call, or a combination of these, is also open for discussion. :slight_smile:



Great idea Frank!

While it seems unlikely that in-person events will be able to resume for a little while yet, I agree it makes sense to start thinking about how events might need to be adapted to prioritise safety and comply with local/national health measures. Count me in for this conversation :+1:

Given that health advice and regulations are bound to differ from place to place and change over time, we’d likely need to come up with a number of protocols. Instead, I wonder whether it might be easier to build a ‘menu’ of strategies to reduce the risk of transmission at events. This ‘menu’ could then provide groups in places with different needs and requirements a way to quickly put together event plans appropriate to their local situations.

Perhaps we could use a wiki post in this topic that everyone can edit and contribute to?

What do you reckon?

:memo: Edit: below is the ‘menu’ we’ve come up with in this topic so far…

Ways to make in-person events safer

Below is a crowd-sourced list of potential measures that event organisers can take when thinking about how to resume in-person repair events. This list is neither exhaustive nor prescriptive - feel free to pick and choose based on your requirements and local rules. You can also add your own suggestions by clicking the Edit button at the bottom of the post.

:warning: When deciding whether/how to resume in-person events you will need to follow the rules set out by your local or national authority. Be sure to familiarise yourself with these first!

Planning in-person events

  • Reduce the size of events and run them more often (e.g. you could split them into type of repair: electrical only, bicycles and textiles only etc.)
  • Work with a reservation system (use an online tool such as Calendly or phone reservations) to give participants a time slot and ensure you can control the number of people who show up.
  • Ask volunteers to RSVP in advance and only offer a limited number of spaces.
  • Is it possible to run your event outside?

During in-person events

  • Signage at the entrance outlining the measures in place and asking visitors not to enter if they have listed covid-19 symptoms (based on NHS guidance & wording in the UK).
  • One-way system for entrance & exit
  • Leave doors open as much as possible (meaning “high touch” surfaces such as door handles will not be used).
  • Set up a spacious waiting area that allows participants to maintain social distancing. If there isn’t enough room to allow social distancing, remove the waiting area entirely.
  • Make sure that there are 2 meters of distance between all repairers and visitors at all times. Place repair tables far apart and where possible, place boundaries on the ground.
  • Ask volunteers to keep an eye on whether the distance is respected by everyone and speak to people if necessary
  • Enforce a maximum number of people per table policy to keep numbers low and maintain social distancing
  • If you cannot guarantee the safe distance, you can place partitions between repairers, and between repairers and participants.
  • Don’t provide refreshments. Volunteers can provide their own.
  • Ask participants and repairers to disinfect their hands. Provide disinfectant gel with at least 70% alcohol and make sure there are enough bottles of disinfectant, for example 1 at the entrance, 1 in the toilets and 1 per repair table.
  • Ask participants and repairers to wear a face mask. Or provide plastic faceshields for repairers.
  • Decontaminate all objects brought in first. If this is not possible (e.g. textiles), you can also leave the objects in place for 72 hours before they are repaired. And again 72h before they are picked up again.
  • Avoid sharing objects and thoroughly clean/disinfect any shared tools. Repairers should ideally only use their own tools.
  • Leave cash donations untouched for 4 days.
  • Provide contactless donation option if possible.
  • Is contact tracing required in your area? (e.g. NHS test & trace in the UK) - how can you manage this?

Between in-person events

  • Many of your volunteers and wider community may not want to return to in-person events yet. This is fine. How can you keep the rest of the community engaged?
  • In your communications, be sensitive to the fact that not everyone will feel comfortable coming to in-person events
  • Don’t pressure volunteers to attend in-person events
  • Maintain an active online presence and where possible, maintain any additional online activity you’ve started since lockdown began.

:memo: Got more suggestions? Click the ‘Edit’ button at the bottom of this post to add to this list


Yes! I suggested a FixFest session on this and it looks like it will be in there somewhere.

@james Agreed that the menu of options is sensible given the international and different contexts for different events.

The wiki sounds like a good start, which we could then use as a basis for the FixFest session that @Dave has suggested. (Not one of the Saturday morning ones, please :frowning: ) Maybe something to mention/discuss next Thursday @Janet?

I would be interested in this. Yes to a FixFest session.

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That’s a good point.

What I’m hoping on Thursday is to identify a couple of areas where we can share best practices and potentially seek out technical advice, and share throughout the network. Perhaps different regional hubs could lead on different areas. And this could/should be one of them.

Areas that already seem of great importance and are recurring
• Insurance and risk :grimacing:
• Volunteer recruitment :woman_mechanic:
• Funding :pound:

But there is much more to add, including diversity issues that Josh raised, and what you’ve raised about emerging safely from post-lockdown. (And bringing some learning from our online work offline.)


Our friends @Rosalie_Heens and @Inez_Louwagie at Repair & Share (the network of Repair Cafés in Flanders, Belgium) are ahead of the curve, having already held a session on running repair events in the time of coronavirus in which they compiled a list of measures events could take:

click/tap here for the list of measures covered in the session
  • Work with a reservation system. People get a time lock to participate in the Repair Café. You can also use this to ask all kinds of specific questions and do part of the diagnosis in advance. You can work with free online reservation systems such as calendly or appointly. It is more accessible if you also offer people the possibility to make reservations by phone. Anyway, a reservation system always provides a higher threshold than when people can just drop by without an appointment. If you choose to work without a reservation system, make sure you have enough space to let people wait at a safe distance from each other.
  • Visitors can only drop off and pick up objects, but not let them go inside. In addition, you can also work with a reservation system here.
  • Organize your waiting area, or the entire Repair Café in the open air, e.g. under party tents. If you organize your Repair Café inside, make sure the room is well ventilated.
  • Make sure that there is at all times a one and a half meter distance between all repairers and visitors. Possibly you can organize smaller Repair Cafés more often, e.g. split up per type of repair: electrical only, bicycles and textiles only,… Where possible, place boundaries on the ground and also make sure there are extra volunteers who keep an eye on whether the distance is respected by everyone and speak to people if necessary.
  • If you cannot guarantee the safe distance, you can place partitions between repairers, and between repairers and visitors.
  • Forcing visitors and repairers to disinfect their hands. Provide disinfectant gel with at least 70% alcohol and make sure there are enough bottles of disinfectant, for example 1 at the entrance, 1 in the toilets and 1 per repair table.
  • Volunteers ask to wear a mouth mask. You can also ask visitors to wear a mouth mask. Or provide plastic face protection (faceshield) for repairers.
  • Decontaminate all objects brought in first. If this is not possible (e.g. textiles), you can also leave the objects in place for 72 hours before they are repaired. And again 72h before they are picked up again.
  • Do not share objects. Repairers only ask to use their own tools. Ask visitors to use their own ballpoint pen to fill in the form or give each visitor a different ballpoint pen.

[translated from the original Dutch with DeepL]

Full article here:


International cooperation FTW! Great to get this from Belgian friends.

Another thing we might consider: there may be special rules in place limiting the numbers of people who can assemble. Currently it is six people here in the UK. But assuming for a repair event, we would need this number to be higher. This would mean we’d have to be much stricter about volunteer RSVPs as well as have pre-registration.

One big comment:

Visitors can only drop off and pick up objects, but not let them go inside. In addition, you can also work with a reservation system here.

For us, this would be a deal-breaker, as we’re not a free repair service. We’re a learning space. Which brings me to another important question…

What are our own criteria for when to resume these events?

Given our situation in the UK, I’m honestly not sure when events like this should happen again. Recalling that we cancelled events before the government declared a lockdown and there is growing controversy over the lifting of lockdown… We should be prepared to have a frank conversation in our groups as to when we think the time is right to resume activity. No matter what is officially permitted or allowed.

To give a related example, our allotments are not revisiting their strict rules prohibiting visitors and banning bonfires. Even with the lifting of restrictions by government…


I will just also add the experience from Sweden, where we are now resuming physical events. First to say that, as you may know, the situation has been different in Sweden in that we’ve never really had a lockdown, so our suspension of physical events was always voluntary. Our volunteers wanted to start running events again and our protocol including a booking system via facebook and meetup. We also are only doing events at our base venue - and the venue is only letting one group at a time use it so there is lots of space. Still, if it is nice weather we are using outside as well. We are setting up one station per table with a limit of 3 running at any one time to maintain distance. We have masks for volunteers and disposable masks for participants. We have gloves, eye protection, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, and disinfectant for any tools that need to be shared. We do not usually get many visitors this time of year when the weather is nice, and we know the venue well, so all that helps keep it well within Swedish guidelines (we are doing much more than the guidelines to be honest).


I’m definitely interested in this too, from a UK perspective (for some point in the future), and a menu seems a good idea, and I’m with @Janet that drop off and leaving items to be fixed is a deal breaker for us too, as our main objective is education, and we’d become a free version of the repair shops in our city that we are not competing with currently. Clare


Just to add to the conversation, La Cordonella (in Catalonia) have also resumed in-person events. Organiser, Pau (who hasn’t made it to the forum yet) has kindly shared the measures they’ve put in place:


Huge have produced some ‘customer experience’ research around how people are approaching the easing of lockdown restrictions in the USA.

tl;dr: they came up with 5 ‘post-isolation personas’:

Persona Description Concern about COVID-19 Returning to public spaces
Band-aid rippers Freedom focused :black_medium_small_square: :white_medium_small_square: :white_medium_small_square: :white_medium_small_square: :white_medium_small_square: Now
Trapped butterflies Socially-driven :black_medium_small_square: :black_medium_small_square: :white_medium_small_square: :white_medium_small_square: :white_medium_small_square: Very soon
Polite optimists Cautious but eager :black_medium_small_square: :black_medium_small_square: :black_medium_small_square: :white_medium_small_square: :white_medium_small_square: Soon
Eggshell walkers Nervous to emerge :black_medium_small_square: :black_medium_small_square: :black_medium_small_square: :black_medium_small_square: :white_medium_small_square: Not for a short while
Fulfilled homebodies In it for the long haul :black_medium_small_square: :black_medium_small_square: :black_medium_small_square: :black_medium_small_square: :black_medium_small_square: Not for a long while

You can download the full report here (PDF, 9.7 MB)

This research indicates that nearly 40% of people in the USA fall into the ‘Eggshell walkers’ category. So, while the commercial focus isn’t particularly tailored to community repair, I think this research offers a useful lesson. As we’re thinking about how to resume in-person events, we’ll also need to consider that many people in our communities may not be ready to come to events even if/when restrictions are eased.

How can we make sure we’re still making repair accessible to everyone, whether or not they come to events?


I believe they are also know as “anti-maskers” or “Covidiots”

Interesting - and we and our volunteers fall into these categories too.

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Hi everyone,
In Belgium (French-speaking part), we have resumed some events, but quite specific ones :

  • Outdoors bike repair events
  • Sewing machine repair events

We are planning to resume Repair Cafés at the beginning of July, with specific measures.

Those measures are based on measures from the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, about continuing education (which is the closest to Repair Cafes in our opinion). But we don’t want to sacrify the co-repair principle because of health protocols.

We add :

  • Preferably outdoor activities
  • Preferably with masks and hydroalcoholic gel
  • Pre-registration and scheduled visits (approx. 30 min per repair)

Stay safe !


Good to know that you’re starting to resume in-person events too Jonathan, and thanks for sharing these suggestions!

I’ve collated all the suggested measures in this topic and added them to my first post above (here). I’ve also made it a wiki post, so anyone can add their own suggestions directly.

@Frank, it’s interesting to see you’re planning an in-person event for the 5th of September.

Are you happy to share which measures you’re putting in place to

Absolutely - I have tried a sensible approach, without being too onerous or paranoid. Controls in bold, the implementation for each as bullet points.

Feel free to point out gaps! :mask:


  • Signage at the entrance warning visitors not to enter if they have listed covid-19 symptons (based on NHS guidance & wording).
  • One-way system for entrance & exit
  • Limit number of people on-site to 4 volunteers and a maximum of 4 visitors.
  • Tables laid out for at least 1 m (possibly 2 m) distance between all.


  • No tea/coffee will be provided for visitors. Volunteers to provide their own.
  • No waiting area for visitors.
  • Doors will be left open as much as possible, meaning “high touch” surfaces such as door handles will not be used.
  • Volunteers to sanitise hands between each repair (each visitor).
  • Face covering (nose & mouth) required indoors for volunteers & visitors.
  • Visitors to use hand sanitiser (provided) upon entry.
  • No tool sharing between volunteers.
  • Cash donations will be left untouched for 5 days. (Note: also providing contactless donation option.)

Contact tracing (in line with NHS Test & Trace)

  • Visitors will be required to provide contact details (phone or email).
  • Visitors will be requested to inform the Marlow Repair Café organisers if they develop symptoms in the 14 days following the event.
  • Visitors will sign that they have read & understood the terms & conditions of entry of the Marlow Repair Café, including contact tracing.
  • This information will be destroyed after 21 days.
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Thank you for sharing @Frank, really interesting to hear about your plans!

One thing I’m curious about: Will visitors stay with their devices the whole time, or will they have to wait elsewhere? I assume they won’t be able to help fixing or share tools with the volunteers. But I wonder if you’re trying to involve them in the repair nonetheless :slight_smile:

Agreed, thanks for this Frank :+1:

I had a similar thought to Vanessa about ways to involve participants in repairs. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts there.

Are you planning to continue some of the online activities you’ve started since lockdown to keep those engaged who don’t feel ready to venture out yet?