Event Planning and COVID-19: Questions and Answers

Information for Event Planners and Individuals

Updated March 15, 2020

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Planning and Preparedness

Creating an emergency plan for mass gatherings and large community events, such as concerts and sporting events, can help protect the health of your staff, attendees, and the local community. This planning should include:

  • Encouraging staff and attendees to stay home if sick.
  • Developing flexible refund policies for attendees.
  • Providing supplies for attendees and staff that can be used to help prevent the spread of germs.
  • Consulting local public health officials about your event.

Encourage staff and attendees to take everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, such as COVID-19. This includes:

  • Cleaning your hands often.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • Staying home when you are sick.
  • Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.

Consult with local public health officials and continually assess, based on current conditions, whether to postpone, cancel, or significantly reduce the number of attendees (if possible) at an event or gathering. When determining if you should postpone or cancel a large gathering or event, consider the:

  • Overall number of attendees or crowd size.
  • Number of attendees who are at higher risk of developing serious illness from COVID-19. This includes older adults and people with underlying health problems such as lung or heart disease and diabetes.
  • How close together attendees will be at the event.
  • Potential ways to minimize economic impact to attendees, staff, and the local community.
  • Amount of spread in local community and the communities from where your attendees are likely to travel.
  • Needs and capacity of the local community to host or participate in your event.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the community

If there is minimal or moderate spread of COVID-19 in the community, CDC recommends cancelling an:

If there is substantial spread of COVID-19 in the community, CDC recommends cancelling events of any size. See guidance for definitions of minimal, moderate, and substantial spreadpdf iconpdf icon.

Confirmed case of COVID-19 at an event

If a staff member or attendee becomes sick at your event, separate them from others as soon as possible and until they can go home. Provide them with clean, disposable facemaskspdf iconpdf icon to wear, if available. If not available, provide them with a tissue or some other way to cover their coughs and sneezes. If needed, contact emergency services for those who need emergency care. Public transportation, shared rides, and taxis should be avoided for sick persons. Be sure to contact local public health officials regarding the possible case of COVID-19 at your event and how to communicate with staff and attendees about possible exposure to the virus. Read more about preventing the spread of COVID-19 if someone is sick.

CDC has guidance for cleaning and disinfecting rooms and areas where a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 has visited. See Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations.

Event cancellations

If there is minimal or moderate spread of COVID-19 in the community, CDC recommends cancelling an:

If there is substantial spread of COVID-19 in the community, CDC recommends cancelling events of any size. See page 9 of CDC’s Community Mitigation Framework or definitions of “minimal, moderate, and substantial spreadpdf iconpdf icon.”