Due to the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, parts of this article may now be out of date. You can find out the latest here.
As the COVID-19 virus pandemic worsens in the UK, government advice on non-essential travel and public gatherings have forced ghost hunting event companies to consider cancellation.
No one wants to cancel events. It’s obviously costly for the event’s teams running the events and a shame for those looking forward to attending, but given the situation all those effected by cancellations will understand the need to limit public gatherings.
This week the situation has escalated and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told the British public to avoid “non-essential” travel and contact to slow the spread of the virus. Of course, a public ghost hunt would be deemed to be non-essential, as would public transport to get to an event.
In the first of his daily COVID-19 briefings, the PM along with the government’s chief scientific and medical advisers told the public that they should avoid gatherings and crowded places. This included pubs, clubs, restaurants, and theatres, but would also apply to a paranormal event.
The main way the virus is currently thought to spread is between people who are in close contact with one another, most likely by inhaling droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, which is why using a tissue and the disposing of it properly is so important.
Due to the nature of ghost hunting events, keeping a distance from people is unavoidable. Many event organisers have already scrapped some common ghost hunting activities, such as holding hands during vigils, have asked their guests to keep a distance from each other where possible, and enforced the mandatory use of hand sanitiser upon arrival at the event.
Usually on ghost hunts, team members hand out ghost hunting gadgets like EMF meters and spirit boxes. As the virus can spread through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects, this is another factor that adds to the potential risk of spreading COVID-19 through ghost hunting events. Even activities such as using a Ouija board could increase the risk of viral spread.
At this stage, the answer is looking like yes. While some paranormal teams are airing on the side of caution and cancelling all foreseeable events, others are waiting for further guidance from the government, taking advice from health professionals, and waiting for updates from the venues hosting the events.
As the news about the latest escalation of the situation was shared by the government early this week, most paranormal events companies are unlikely to respond in detail until nearer the weekend when their next events are due to take place, although some have started to tell guests that future events are cancelled.
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For now, the best thing to do is keep an eye on organiser’s websites and social media accounts, as if the situation changes they are likely to inform guests with as much notice as possible, often this will be in the form of an email sent to the address you used to book your ticket.
MHE have said they’ll be updating a dedicated page on their website twice a day, “all information with regard to MHE events will be posted as soon as anything changes.” Other paranormal teams have a similar page where information can be found. Like Haunted Happenings, many events teams are urging their customers not to inundate them with calls or emails whilst they work to ensure that everyone is kept up to date.
Before you think about refunds, you should think about whether you really need one. Don’t be too demanding. This is not only a tough time for you, but also the companies who are inevitably going to loose money as a result of this outbreak. Where possible, try to switch to another event rather than asking for your money back. Many events companies are small and rely upon having funds available to plan and secure future events.
Similarly, many of the types of locations that are commonly investigated on events are in a state of disrepair and rely on the income from paranormal events. Don’t be too quick to snatch this back from them if there are other options available.
This is a two-way street. Ghost hunting companies are generally a friendly bunch, so if you are worried and decide not to attend, given the circumstances they might, within reason, allow you to reschedule your booking for another event.
You should be sure to check the terms and conditions of the ghost hunting event companies you book through – you’ll normally find a link to their T&Cs in the footer of the website. You’ll specifically need to look for the company’s policies relating to cancellations. While this might vary company to company, the most likely outcome is that if events get cancelled you will be given the option to get a full refund or book onto another event when it all blows over.
One important thing to remember is that in most cases you will not be entitled to a refund if the event is still taking place but you decide not to attend due to your concern over the virus. Most event companies have a clause in their booking conditions along the lines of “we reserve the right to cancel an event due to circumstances beyond our control. In this case you will be offered a full refund or the option to move your booking to another suitable event.”
The monetary cost of your ticket might not be the only loss if an event does get cancelled. Due to the nature of paranormal events, it’s often necessary to arrange public transportation in advance, or an overnight stay due to this type of event’s late finishes. You may find that train tickets and hotel bookings made in advance are non-refundable and these costs are not something paranormal event companies are liable for in the event of cancellations.
It should be remembered that any future cancellations and the advice from the government is not because coronavirus poses a danger to all of us, but is an attempt to stop the virus spreading before those who are vulnerable and would be at risk from the virus.
Prof. Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical adviser, told the public that the chance of dying from the virus “for any individual person” was “very low”.
Fingers crossed the spread of coronavirus will slow and the disruption will be minimal. Until then wash your hands regularly, check in on older relatives, don’t panic and be sensible.