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Event Planning and COVID-19: Questions and Answers

Event Planning and COVID-19: Questions and Answers

Information for Event Planners and Individuals

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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.

CDC does not have a limit or recommend a specific number of attendees for these types of events and instead encourages event organizers to focus on ways to limit people’s contact with each other. Each event organizer will need to determine the appropriate number for their setting in collaboration with local health officials. They should also check state, county, and city rules regarding any current restrictions limiting the number of attendees at events.

In general, the number that is chosen should allow individuals to remain at least 6 feet apart from each other. Rather than focusing on an ideal number, event organizers and administrators should focus on the ability to reduce and limit contact between attendees, staff, and others. In general, the more people you interact with, the more closely you interact with them, and the longer that interaction, the higher your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. Indoor spaces are more risky than outdoor spaces because indoors, it can be harder to keep people at least 6 feet apart and the ventilation is not as good as it is outdoors.

Yes. CDC recommends several strategies for this. For instance, organizers can:

  • Limit attendance or seating capacity to allow for social distancing, or host smaller events in larger rooms.
  • Block off rows or sections of seating in order to space people at least 6 feet apart.
  • Use multiple entrances and exits and discourage crowded waiting areas.
  • Eliminate lines or queues if possible or encourage people to stay at least 6 feet apart by providing signs or other visual cues such as tape or chalk marks.
  • Provide physical guides, such as tape on floors or sidewalks and signs on walls, to ensure that individuals remain at least 6 feet apart in lines and at other times (such as guides for creating one-way routes).
  • Prioritize outdoor activities where social distancing can be maintained as much as possible.
  • Offer online attendance options in addition to in-person attendance to help reduce the number of attendees.
  • Consider limiting the number of people who occupy the restroom at one time to allow for social distancing.
  • Do not allow lines or crowds to form near the restroom. Take steps to ensure that individuals can stay at least 6 feet apart from each other.

CDC does not recommend testing all attendees and staff before allowing them to enter. Testing all event attendees and staff for COVID-19 before allowing them to enter the venue has not been systematically studied. It is unknown if entry testing at event venues provides any additional reduction in person-to-person transmission of the virus beyond what would be expected with other preventive measures (such as social distancing, wearing cloth face coverings, hand washing, enhanced cleaning and disinfection).

CDC does recommend conducting health checks such as temperature screening and/or symptom checking of staff and attendees safely and respectfully, and in accordance with any applicable privacy laws and regulations.

Yes. CDC recommends that people wear masks in public settings and when around people who don’t live in their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. CDC recommends that organizers require staff to wear masks and encourage attendees ahead of events to bring and wear masks at the event. Masks are most essential when physical distancing is difficult (such as when moving within a crowd or audience). Masks offer some protection to the wearer and are also meant to protect those around the wearer, in case they are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Masks are not surgical masks or respirators. They are not personal protective equipment.
Masks are strongly encouraged in settings where individuals might raise their voices (such as shouting, chanting, singing). Provide all staff with information on proper use, removal, and washing of masks. Advise staff that masks should not be placed on:

  • Babies or children younger than 2 years old
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing
  • Anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance

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.
  • Using a mask in public, especially when it may be difficult to maintain a distance of at least six feet from other people.

Cleaning with products containing soap or detergent reduces germs on surfaces and objects by removing contaminants and may also weaken or damage some of the virus particles, which decreases risk of infection from surfaces. Cleaning high touch surfaces and shared objects once a day is usually enough to sufficiently remove virus that may be on surfaces unless someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 has been in your facility. For more information on cleaning your facility regularly and cleaning your facility when someone is sick, see Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility

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.
  • 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 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 cloth face covering, which can be improvised if needed from a tee shirt, bandana or other clothing, as well as 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.