By Noah Wullkotte
This is a scary time for the haunt industry. Actors, prop builders, security, concession workers, haunt owners and many others are worried about what the haunt season is going to be like for 2020. They’re worried about keeping their staff safe and rightfully so. COVID-19 is going to change the haunt industry in ways that we’ve never imagined. Here are some tips on how to keep your customers safe this haunt season.
CLEAN COSTUMES AND MASKS FREQUENTLY
Clean your masks and costumes as much as you can this season. Whatever method you usually use then stick to it and don’t forget. You can kill germs on masks by spraying the inside and outside with rubbing alcohol. With latex masks you can rinse them with water and soap to remove dirt, makeup and more. Clean your costumes based on the its directions, but many times you can wash them like you would regular clothing. But with some you might need to hand wash them and let it air dry.
DON’T SHARE MASKS, COSTUMES OR MAKEUP
This goes without saying. If you want to prevent contracting COVID-19 then you need to keep your mask, costume or makeup to yourself.
USE NO TOUCH MAKEUP
The best solution is to use airbrush makeup. You won’t be touching your skin and putting yourself at risk when it comes to COVID-19.
PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING
This is going to be a difficult task if your scene involves multiple actors, but do your best to stay 6 feet apart from staff. This also includes distancing yourself from customers.
PUT BARRIERS UP BETWEEN MAKEUP STATIONS
Some restaurants are utilizing cloth, plastic or plexiglass barriers to protect its customers. Just imagine this being a massive face shield that’s used to fight COVID-19. Put these barriers up to separate each makeup station and to practice social distancing. Many haunts might have a small makeup room and will be unable to be 6 feet apart. Having barriers might fix this issue.
PUT MAKEUP ON OUTSIDE
If you can’t practice social distancing when applying makeup or putting on costumes and masks then get ready outside where there’s plenty of room. This isn’t practical if you’re wearing makeup that might run if it’s warm out.
ELIMINATE BUFFET STYLE CATERING FOR CAST PARTIES
Many haunts have parties at the end of the night or the end of the season. The issue with this is that some serve food buffet style where staff can grab food out of open containers and this isn’t good if you’re wanting to practice social distancing. You also don’t want your food contaminated. So, only have pre-packaged food or food that is sealed in some way.
MAKE A TO DO LIST
Hand out a list to each of your employees that has different things they can do each night to keep your customers safe from getting COVID-19.
DON’T PUT ON A FACE MASKS UNDER YOUR CHARACTER’S MASK
I’ve heard some people suggest putting a safety mask on underneath your character’s mask and it’s a terrible idea. I can guarantee you that many of your cast members will pass out because of being unable to breath. The other day I had a simple cloth mask on while I was shopping. I felt like I was going to pass out and I wasn’t exerting hardly any energy. So, please don’t make your cast wear two masks. They will need to take breaks and they might pass out.
TAKE THE STAFF’S TEMPERATURE
Be sure to take your staff member’s temperature when they arrive and if it’s 100.4 or higher then they need to go home. Don’t forget to ask them questions such as if they have a dry cough, been traveling, feel sick etc.
USE 2-WAY RADIOS REGULARLY
Most haunts communicate with their workers using 2-Way Radios or something else. But some haunts don’t. So, be sure you’re remembering to communicate with your staff regularly because it’s going to be a very stressful time.
HAVE STAFF WEAR SAFETY MASKS
Your staff such as security, ticket takers, concession booth workers and so fourth should be wearing safety masks.
BEEF UP YOUR SECURITY
You’re going to be dealing with a lot of customer complaints this season and there are going to be many customers that don’t practice social distancing. So, expect some people to get physical, yell in your face and so fourth. You had to deal with this in previous years, but it’s going to be taken to another level this season because of COVID-19. Be sure that your security is well trained and you might need to hire more this season.
USE DEDICATED COVID-19 STAFF
There are a lot of safety measures haunts are going to need to take. You should have a staff member or two where their only job is to make sure hand sanitizing stations are full, people are social distancing, masks are being worn and everything else is being taken care of when it comes to COVID-19. Having them wear a shirt that says safety team on the back could help you easily identify them. If your staff is using spray bottles then make sure they’re bright green or yellow because customers will be able to see you cleaning in the dark. Customers would love seeing that a haunt is putting effort into keeping them safe.
HAVE HIDDEN STAFF
Use employees throughout your attraction where it’s their job to make sure that everyone is social distancing properly. They can also sanitize and keep things generally clean. Have them wear black clothing so they blend in well with their surroundings. The security can play this role as well.
CREATE A GROUP CHAT FOR STAFF
You and your staff will be dealing with more stress than ever before and owners and managers need to be able to easily communicate with them. So, what’s better than setting up a Facebook Group, Message Chat or a Group Chat through text. You have to be able to communicate easily this season with everyone at the same time in order to make sure everyone is doing alright.
PAY STAFF ELECTRONICALLY
Have it setup where it’s direct deposit and where you aren’t handing your employees paper bills or a check.
SANITIZE FREQUENTLY TOUCHED AREAS
It’s just common sense to routinely wipe down your most frequently touched areas like railings, tables, various hard surfaces and more. Sanitize anything that customers or staff might be touching inside and outside of your haunt. It doesn’t matter if there’s COVID-19 or not. Your haunt should be clean and you should be using these practices either way. You might consider first cleaning dirty surfaces with soap and water. Sam’s Club and Costco sell cleaning supplies in bulk at reasonable prices. Home Depot and similar stores sell a pump sprayer for ten bucks. You just fill it with your sanitizer and get to work
DON’T TOUCH OTHER ACTORS
Many haunts around the country have actors that work together to create a scene. One character might shove a victim against the wall or yell in their face. There are many scenarios where actors are touching each other and you might consider removing that element all together. If you’re wanting to social distance then you need to think of your cast as well.
REDUCE THE NUMBER OF ACTORS IN A SCENE
The days of having a massive zombie horde emerge from the darkness to attack might be over. The more actors you have in a small room, the more risk you’re taking. Think about reducing the number of characters this haunt season or utilize them in a way where they aren’t so close to each other.
UTILIZE AERIAL SCARES
If you have the space then think about incorporating various scares where the actor is in the air or gliding across the ceiling. It could be a witch, vampire, zombie or whatever you like. Props would work as well. Your performer will be practicing social distancing and many times it’s the most memorable scare of the night.
UTILIZE PLEXIGLASS SCARES
No, I’m not telling you to put your actors behind plexiglass. But if you’ve ever had a scene where you’ve used a plastic barrier then you might want to incorporate it this season. Examples include a maternity ward where an animated baby hits the plexiglass. It could be a mental patient banging on the glass as he loses what’s left of his mind. Just be creative.
DON’T MAKE PHYSICAL CONTACT WITH CUSTOMERS
If you’re worried about COVID-19 this season then don’t touch customers. You’ll be protecting yourself and others. It’s really that simple.
OFFER REFUNDS IF SOMEONE SHOWS COVID-19 SYMPTOMS
Just imagine this. Someone purchases a ticket online and they end up having COVID-19 symptoms. Or they purchase a ticket at your location and realize they have COVID-19 symptoms. They ask for a refund and you refuse. They’re irate and to get their payback they spit on a staff member or customer. This is something you hope would never happen, but you just don’t want to take the chance. Offer refunds this year if someone asks because they have COVID-19 Symptoms.
Thanks for taking the time to read our tips in keeping your staff safe this season from COVID-19. Click here to read our article covering Haunt Customer Safety Tips. If you have any suggestions then please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org