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The Life of Pi - Take 2

Wednesday 3 June 2020

 life-of-pi  The Life of Pi - Take 2

Yann Martel's famous book (then movie) relates the story of Pi and a tiger alone on a lifeboat and then on a spooky carnivorous island. This form social distancing was not optional for Pi, but what can his mathematical cousin tell us about venue capacities with social distancing measures in place..?

So here at Venue Search London we have been digging out and dusting off our GCSE Maths notebooks, to crunch some numbers around the various social distancing rules that are being applied around the world to reduce the spread of Covid - 19.

And here, in summary, are the exam results:


Using the current UK 2 metre distancing rule:

This requires an area of 12.56 sqm per person for social distancing. Think of it as the area you would clear by swinging a broomstick around your head without breaking anyone's nose, and you've got the picture here!

But this number comes down in a socially distanced room because you can share some of this circle with others since they can be centred on the edge of your circle.  In summary, for a conference or standing reception, you can fit 25 people in a 10m x 10m room. = 4sqm per person.


Using the 1.5 metre distancing rule (favoured by Germany and others):

With a shorter broomstick now in your hands, your area now reduces to 7.07 sqm, just over half the 2m rule area! This now means that you can fit 44 people in a 10m x 10m room.


Using the 1.0 metre distancing rule (recommended by the WHO and used in China):

You have now dropped the broomstick and are just swinging your arms around, and this now takes your area down to 3.14 sqm, which now allows you to fit 100 people in a 10m x 10m room.

In this instance, you are now needing to look carefully at entrances and exits from any event space and people flows etc, since movement becomes an issue in maintaining this distance.

But, for a theatre style conference, you are now looking at around 33% capacity for most venues, compared to their previously stated capacity.

For seated dinners, you can now fit six people around a 6ft round table, which again is half the normal capacity.


The significance of all this, is that if the UK Government decides to reduce this "safe distance advice" down from its current 2 metre rule, it will make a huge difference to the hospitality and events industry and make the difference between being able to open with profitable operating revenues or remain closed well beyond the end of  the Furlough period, with drastic consequences for many workers.

In  addition, with a 1 metre rule in place, any event will seem "busy and atmospheric enough", whilst with the current 2 metre rule, it may feel a bit like you are attending a very unpopular event, bar or restaurant, however hard the venue tries to boost the atmosphere.

At Venue Search London, we know that we are not scientists and we must leave it to them and the Government to best advise and instruct us here, as we work our way slowly out of Lockdown.

You can read more about the risks and variations in the various national policies in this BBC article. But we hope that the science will soon guide us to reduce the 2 metre rule, which may well be the final obstacle to delivering viable events when we are permitted to do so.


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