Anti-covid safety measures during Witcher School5 Żywiołów
In Autumn 2020 we held three editions of Witcher School. Reaching the decision to organize them was not easy for us. Every event we organize involves a lot of responsibility and we have always cared about safety issues (and we still continue on improving in that field), but this time we faced (and are still facing) a much bigger problem – a pandemic. In order to provide a great but also safe experience, we introduced restrictions and safety measures in place that were supposed to diminish the danger. They aimed to not only satisfy the demands of the current government bylaws, but to even go above and beyond them – we wanted to do everything possible to make sure that everyone participating the event would feel safe.
And, judging by the answers our players gave us in the evaluation forms we prepared for every edition, we accomplished our task! The vast majority of feedback we have received is positive. Some people even told us that they felt safer during Witcher School than anywhere else since the pandemic started! We have also received some constructive criticism that we will use to improve our solutions even further, but overall it seems that the safety measures did their job and everyone returned to their homes safe and sound. What is more, each edition was monitored by the representatives of the health department and not only did they have no concerns, but also praised our preparation.
It seems that we are now living in a new reality and the corona virus is a part of that reality. While it remains a threat that one should not disregard in any way, we still believe that we don’t have to resign from the great experience that larps provide for all of us.
Below you will find the specific solutions we introduced that touch upon individual aspects of the event. They are, of course, not a full list of guidelines and measures taken – since the situation is ever-changing and so do the restrictions and bylaws, we will send a full, up-to-date instruction to those of you who buy the ticket closer to the event itself.
Before party was always an important part of our event. People would meet up a day before the game start and spend some quality time together – either catching up after a few months of not seeing each other or making new friends. However, as long as the situation does not improve greatly, we will not able to organise a before party. We know it’s a shame, but we believe that it’s more important to reduce the risk of someone becoming ill before the event even starts. We cannot forbid anyone to have such a meeting, but we ask our players to limit their pre-game interactions to people with whom they will travel or will be in groups/rooms.
Shuttle from the airport
As always, we offer a shuttle ride from and to the Wrocław airport for those who can’t reach the castle by car. Before anyone gets on the bus, their temperature will be taken by a member of our crew to make sure that everyone is fine. Every person will have to wear mouth and nose cover during all the way on the bus. Our team member will also have a hand sanitiser with them for participants’ use. In case of someone showing symptoms at that point, we will provide a special isolation car in which they will be transported to the castle where next steps will be taken.
Measuring the temperature
We will be checking the temperature of every player and every crew member on regular basis: before they get on the bus, before accreditation, and before breakfast and supper everyday.
If it turns out that someone has a high temperature, we will take steps as indicated by the Health Department procedures. Which means isolating the person from other participants in a separate room with a bathroom and if the fever doesn’t come down and/or a person shows other symptoms – contacting the sanitary-epidemiological station for further actions. That may result in partial or full exclusion from the event.
As always we will have a medic on site throughout the event. They will be a person who is professionally prepared to deal with any health risks, Covid included. If during the game you start to feel unwell and have a suspicions to you might have become infected – don’t leave your room. Instead, contact the on-site medic via the phone or messenger (you can also contact the castle’s reception desk). They will visit you in your room and make sure that everything is alright. If not, you will be moved to a separate room with a bathroom (we will keep a few rooms like that vacant in case they are needed) and put under medical observation. If your symptoms do not subside and Covid is suspected, you will be transported to the nearby sanitary-epidemiological station to be taken care of. Remember, if the worst does happen – we will not leave you alone!
During accreditation every participant will have to sign an additional document, stating that the participant according to their best knowledge is not a carrier and is not currently in quarantine or under an epidemiological supervision. Also, if the government regulations change somehow, they will have to sign a consent to follow up-to-date safety measures regarding Covid-19 in force during the event and share their personal data with the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate if needed. Moreover, every starting kit that our players receive at accreditation will also include a bottle, three vials used to store witcher potions, as well as a bottle of hand sanitizer.
Workshops and Anti-Covid Coordinator
Before the game starts, we will hold workshops as usual, but one of them will be dedicated solely to the anti-Covid measures. Everything will be carefully explained and the participants will be able to ask any questions to clear up any issue. Moreover, one of our crew members will take on the function of an anti-Covid coordinator. That person will be monitoring the game, making sure that everyone follows the rules and that everything needed to make the participants feel safe is provided. They will also answer any questions and will react in case of some unforeseen developments.
Covid-related safety gestures
We introduced new gestures that will be used to remind other participants about safety measures. Everyone can make a mistake and forget about the threat when in a heat of the moment but thanks to those gestures you will be able to remind them, for example, about keeping distance or putting on their mask, without breaking the immersion more than necessary.
Disinfection and hand washing
The castle has its own safety measures for disinfection. To minimalize the threat of infection such items as swords, crafting tools or alchemy mortars will not be shared (or, if its unavoidable, they will be immediately disinfected) and they will also be disinfected between classes / stages of an event.As mentioned above, every participant will receive a personal hand sanitizer from us during the accreditation (with an option to refill it free of charge) – to use during the event when they don’t have access to sanitizers in the castle.
Remember about the proper handwashing – we will provide the instructions in toilets. We encourage participants to wash and disinfect hands regularly. Using hand sanitizers every time when entering the castle and going outside as well as before the meal and leaving the toilet is a must.
Maps will be available that indicate the places in which you can find sinks and toilets – in order to minimize the queues. All the automatic hand-dryers will be turned off due to the spread of bacteria. Remember – if there’s no soap/sanitizer left somewhere, make sure to report that at the reception, so they can be immediately replaced.
Maintaining distance, mouth and nose covers
Every participant of the event has the obligation to cover mouth and nose inside the castle (except during the meals) and is encouraged to do it outdoors – however that rule may change with the government bylaws and it may turn out, that wearing masks outside will also become mandatory. There will be a possibility to buy a Witcher School scarf before the game starts.
We know now that although the masks can be a nuisance (they limit the range of expression and muffle the sound of one’s voice), we also learnt that in most cases they are not a terrible burden and do not interfere with the game in any really significant way. Many participants even stated that they quickly got used to wearing them. Most people agreed that even though the masks were not always a comfortable thing, in the end, they made them feel much safer.
Whenever we can, we should keep in mind the recommended distance between the participants: 2 metres inside the castle and in queues, and 1,5 metres outdoors.
About a month before the game start we will send out to every player and crew member a form in which we will ask about other participants they meet on a daily basis; plan to meet with before the event; with whom they will be travelling. We will analyse the data and on its basis, we will divide people into groups and rooms – which will further be used to allocate their places during meals, lessons and group events. There are two reasons behind that solution.
Firstly, we want to reduce the contact between people during the game. Of course it doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to interact with people outside your group, but you will be able to have that interaction in a safer environment. It becomes really crucial during the times when we are most vulnerable – during the meals and when sleeping in your room, when you don’t wear a mask.
Second of all, having such groups become a part of our action plan in the case of someone becoming infected with Covid. Thanks to the solution, the spread of the virus will be either contained to a dining table, room or a group, depending on circumstances. That way it will be much easier to deal with the situation without putting additional people at risk. It also means that if everyone follows the rules, we will limit the potential quarantine to an absolute minimum.
Food and drinks
If the situation allows, we will serve meals as we did in the past, maintaining the distance between participants in the restaurant and hand sanitizing. Everyone will be seated at a table assigned to them according to their group / room. The sitting order will not change for the duration of the game.
Drinking from the same mug or bottle is absolutely forbidden! We will make sure that there’s no shortage of glasses. Please remember not to overuse alcohol and overtire your organism.
There might be an increase in the castle’s personnel and, unfortunately, due to safety reasons, some of them might not not be wearing historical uniforms. They will do their best to use communication passages and be as inconspicuous as possible.
Of course, despite all those safety measures there is a small chance that someone might get infected. In such a case we have a step-by-step contingency plan in place that was created in collaboration with the Health Department. If the worst happens and it turns out that a participant must undergo a quarantine and stay in Poland, we will not leave such a person hanging. We will do everything in our power to not only make sure that they are safe and receive proper help, but that they also are not exposed to any additional expanses, for example involved in paying for a hotel. Those of you who decide to buy a ticket will also receive an updated guide on what to do in certain situations and how to secure oneself against avoidable losses.
Even after the game is over, we will still carefully monitor the situation. A few days after an episode takes place, we will ask every participant about their well-being. In case of anyone developing symptoms, we will carefully interview that person and contact those participants who were in contact with them, just to make sure they are informed and safe.
Ticket refunds policy
Many of you are on the fence about buying a ticket because the times are uncertain and it’s difficult to plan ahead (especially if spending money is involved). We believe in making an informed decision, so below we will carefully explain what can happen to your ticket if you can’t come due to various reasons.
If it turns out that the event can’t take place due to government sanctions or other global reasons, we will postpone it to a different date. In such a case, you will be given an option to either cancel the ticket and receive a full refund, postpone it to the new date or receive a voucher to be used in our store.
However, if it turns out that you can’t take part in the event due to a more individual reason that is out of our hands (health issues; flights getting cancelled; your country becoming a red zone) while the event still takes place, the situation becomes more complex. According to the event’s bylaws, after buying a ticket you have 14 days to cancel it. In such a case you will receive a full refund, no questions asked. After that time, we are not obliged to return your money. Still, we will try to do anything in our power to help you getting it all back (or at least some part of it).
First, we will try to find a replacement player to take your place. In that case, you will receive a full refund (minus manipulation costs – 25-50 euro, depending on the moment of resignation). If no replacement is found, we will still try to reimburse you, but it will all depend on how a specific episode does financially. In such a case, you may receive a voucher to be used in our store for future purchases (however, the voucher will not cover the whole ticket price).
That’s why we ask you to make a careful decisions when purchasing a ticket to one of our events. If you have any questions or want to clear something up, please contact us on [email protected].
For those of you who are interested in learning more about the safety measures introduced during Witcher School or want to get some useful tips on how to safely organize larp events, we will soon conduct a webinar devoted to that topic. If you want to join it, please fill this form.
We hope to see you!
We know that many of you are still not certain about attending a larping event while a pandemic is still a serious problem. We hope that the safety measurements we described above will put your mind at ease and help you make a decision. As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, we live in a new reality. We have to adapt and make sure that we take care of everyone’s safety. We decided to share with you some opinions our participants send over to us in the evaluation forms – perhaps they will reassure you. See you on the Path!
“You went above and beyond, to make sure everyone was on the same page. Like, government could learn from you :D”
“The Covid-related safety rules made me feel very safe, otherwise I would not have joined the event since I have a fragile health. Everything was well cleaned, there were dispensers and we had our own cleaning bottle, masks were worn where/when needed and the kitchen staff divided the food. Temperature checks, spaced seating in the bus… I don’t think there was anything missing.”
“In all seriousness, going grocery shopping feels more risky than the WS event in terms of covid measures.”
“Before the game, I was worried about the masks and the sanitizing being annoying but it was definitely alright during it.”
“ I probably felt safer than anywhere else before. Appreciate one whole person dedicated to checking the temperature; sanitizers both before the tavern and the handy small vials to carry with us. I guess you thought of everything possible and did an incredible job to keep the game going and make all the players feel safe.”
Anti-covid safety measures infographic
We summed up the safety measures in one neat infographic below. Click on the picture to see it in full resolution.
What else can we do in everyday life to avoid infection?
- Avoid hugs and handshakes, instead use a different way of greeting, for example, a fistbump (not a high-five!), or give a small bow.
- Try to abstain from cash purchases, use contactless payments whenever you can.
- Touch the light switches, elevator buttons etc. ONLY with your bend finger’s bone. When refuelling your car, lift the fuel dispenser through a paper towel or use a disposable glove.
- Open the door with a closed fist, an elbow or a hip. Don’t touch the handle with your hand unless there’s no other way to open the door. It’s especially important in case of toilet door and those located in public places, like a post office.
- If you have access to disinfecting tissues use them while in a shop to clean your hands, the trolley and the booster seat.
- Clean your hands with soap for 20-30 seconds and/or use alcohol-based (over 60 per cent) hand sanitizers whenever you return home after being in a place where other people were present.
- Keep disinfectants near your home entrance and in your car, so you can use them after refuelling and touching dirty objects and when there’s no chance to clean your hands immediately.
- If it’s possible when sneezing or coughing use disposable tissues and throw them out immediately. If it’s not possible, cover your mouth with your elbow, but remember that a virus may land on your clothing that can be transmitted for a week or longer!