Event and Meeting Guidelines During COVID-19

The CDC, State of Michigan, local Public Health officials, and GVSU health experts offer considerations for event planners in order to enhance the protection of individuals and prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 within our community.  GVSU event planners and university officials can determine, with guidance, how to implement the considerations, making adjustments based on unique needs and circumstances.  

This guidance was developed by the GVSU Technical Advisory Group for COVID-19.


Be Prepared to Change on Short Order

Per the CDC, event organizers should continue to assess, based on current conditions, whether to postpone, cancel, or significantly reduce the number of attendees for gatherings. This is a fluid situation to which you must stay vigilant.

CDC Guiding Principles

  • An event or gathering refers to a planned or spontaneous event, indoors or outdoors, with a small number of people participating or a large number of people in attendance such as a community event or gathering, concert, festival, conference, parade, wedding, or sporting event.
  • The more people an individual interacts with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the potential risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and COVID-19 spreading.
  • The higher the level of community transmission in the area that the gathering is being held, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spreading during a gathering.
  • The size of an event or gathering should be determined based on state, local, territorial or tribal safety laws and regulations.

The risk of COVID-19 spreading at events and gatherings increases as follows:

Source: CDC Considerations for Events and Gatherings

Lowest risk

Virtual-only activities, events, and gatherings.

More risk

Smaller outdoor and in-person gatherings in which individuals from different households remain spaced at least 6 feet apart, wear cloth face coverings, do not share objects, and come from the same local area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).

​​​​​​​Higher risk

Medium-sized in-person gatherings that are adapted to allow individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and with attendees coming from outside the local area.

Highest risk

Large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area.


COVID-19 Continuum Event Matrix

Using the Event Considerations Matrix

First, event considerations are based on three criteria. 

  • Amount of spread in the community (see https://www.mistartmap.info/ to determine which risk level we may be in, based on region)
  • Location of activity: Outdoors or Indoors
  • Expected attendance: # expected and primary population served (higher-risk or not higher-risk)

Then, event organizers should consider if they can fulfill recommendations for a safer event experience.

Finally, special considerations may be needed. See Special Considerations table for more info.

COVID-19 Continuum Common Terminology and Considerations

 

Post Pandemic

None to Minimal Spread of COVID-19 in the community

Moderate Spread of COVID-19 in the community

Substantial Spread of COVID-19 in the community -or- COVID-19 cases are on campus (regardless of community spread) - Public Health to determine duration and extent of short term cancellations

Definition of Community Spread (CDC)

Community spread not expected to return.

Evidence of isolated cases or limited community transmission, case investigations underway, no evidence of exposure in a large communal setting, e.g., healthcare facility, school, mass gathering.

Widespread and/or sustained transmission with high likelihood or confirmed exposure within communal settings with potential for rapid increase in suspected cases.

Large scale community transmission, healthcare staffing significantly impacted, multiple cases within communal settings like healthcare facilities, schools, mass gatherings etc.

Michigan.gov Guidance

Risk Level 6: Post Pandemic

Community spread not expected to return

All businesses can reopen.

Events and gatherings of all sizes with new safety guidance and procedures.

Social distancing rules are relaxed and large events are permitted.

Risk Level 5: Low Risk: Containing - Limited size groups with social distancing (if minimal spread):

Epidemic levels are extremely low and outbreaks can be quickly contained. Health system capacity is strong with robust testing and tracing. Most businesses can reopen given adherence to strict safety measures.

Risk Level 4: Medium Risk: Improving - Limit to small groups with social distancing in place: Epidemic clearly decreasing and health system capacity is strong with robust testing and contact tracing. Additional businesses can reopen given adherence to strict safety measures. 

RIsk Level 1: Uncontrolled Growth: Increasing number of new cases every day, likely to overwhelm the health system. Only critical infrastructure remains open.

Risk Level 2: High Risk: Continue to see high case levels with concern about health system capacity. Only critical infrastructure remains open, with lower-risk recreational activities allowed.

Risk Level 3: Med-High Risk: Epidemic is no longer increasing and health system capacity is sufficient for current needs. Specified lower-risk businesses can reopen given adherence to strict safety measures.


No Community Spread (Risk Level 6)

Location of Activity

Expected Attendance

Recommendations

Outdoors

Any

Event may occur but attendance by higher-risk populations should be discouraged and event should:

  • Monitor changes in community spread.
  • Discourage attendance by higher-risk populations.*
  • Prohibit attendance if sick.
  • Having hand washing capabilities, hand sanitizers and tissues available.
  • Confirm frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces; no self‐service buffets.
  • Find ways to create physical space to minimize close contact as much as possible.
  • Follow university face coverings protocol.

Consider Cancellation:

  • If any of the above recommendations cannot be met.
  • Consider the amount of spread in the local community and the communities from where your attendees are likely to travel.

Indoors

Any

Event may occur but attendance by higher-risk populations should be discouraged and event should:

  • Monitor changes in community spread.
  • Discourage attendance by vulnerable community.
  • Prohibit attendance if sick.
  • Having hand washing capabilities, hand sanitizers and tissues available.    
  • Confirm frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces; no self‐service buffets.
  • Find ways to create physical space to minimize close contact as much as possible.
  • Follow university face coverings protocol.

Consider Cancellation:

  • If any of the above recommendations cannot be met.
  • Consider the amount of spread in the local community and the communities from where your attendees are likely to travel.

*Higher-risk Populations, as defined by the CDC, include people who are: 1) 65 years old and older; 2) People with certain health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, moderate-to-severe asthma, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease and weakened immune systems.


Minimal Spread (Risk Level 5)

Location of Activity

Expected Attendance

Primarily Serving a Higher-Risk Population?

Recommendations

Outdoors

Fewer than 20 people**


 

250 or fewer people**

Yes, primarily higher-risk

 


No, not primarily higher-risk

Event may occur but attendance by higher-risk populations should be discouraged and event organizers should:

  • Monitor changes in community spread.
  • Discourage attendance by higher-risk populations.*
  • Prohibit attendance if sick.
  • Having hand washing capabilities, hand sanitizers and tissues available.
  • Confirm frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces; no self‐service buffets.
  • Find ways to create physical space to minimize close contact as much as possible (at least 6 ft for normal activities).
  • Follow university face coverings protocol.

Consider Cancellation:

  • If any of the above recommendations cannot be met.
  • Consider the amount of spread in the local community and the communities from where your attendees are likely to travel. 

Outdoors

More than 250 people**

No, not primarily higher-risk

Cancel activities and events such as athletic events or practices, or special performances for groups of 250 people or more.

Reference: CDC Interim Guidance for Administrators of US Institutions of Higher Education

Monitor and adhere to guidelines issued at the national, state, and local levels related to limiting the size of gatherings.

Consider CDC guidance and White House guidance as you make decisions about whether to proceed with, postpone, or cancel an event.

Indoors

Fewer than 20 people**



 

250 or fewer people**

Yes, primarily higher-risk

 

 

No, not primarily higher-risk

Event may occur but attendance by higher-risk populations should be discouraged and event organizers should:

  • Monitor changes in community spread.
  • Discourage attendance by higher-risk populations.*
  • Prohibit attendance if sick.
  • Having hand washing capabilities, hand sanitizers and tissues available.
  • Confirm frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces; no self‐service buffets.
  • Find ways to create physical space to minimize close contact as much as possible (at least 6 ft for normal activities).
  • Follow university face coverings protocol.

Consider Cancellation:

  • If any of the above recommendations cannot be met.
  • Consider the amount of spread in the local community and the communities from where your attendees are likely to travel.

Indoors

More than 20 people**

Yes, primarily higher-risk

Cancel gatherings of more than 20 people for organizations that primarily serve higher-risk populations.

Indoors

More than 250 people**

No, not primarily higher-risk

Cancel event of more than 250 people including gatherings, conferences, and sporting events (michigan.gov).

*Higher-risk Populations, as defined by the CDC, include people who are: 1) 65 years old and older; 2) People with certain health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, moderate-to-severe asthma, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease and weakened immune systems.

**Subject to change based on State of MI Executive Orders


Moderate Spread (Risk Levels 3 and 4)

Location of Activity

Expected Attendance

Primarily Serving a Higher-Risk Population?

Recommendations

Outdoors

Fewer than 10 people**

 

Fewer than 100 people**

Yes, primarily higher-risk

 

No, not primarily higher-risk

Event may occur but attendance by higher-risk populations should be discouraged and event organizers should:

  • Monitor changes in community spread.
  • Discourage attendance by higher-risk populations.*   
  • Prohibit attendance if sick.
  • Having hand washing capabilities, hand sanitizers and tissues available.
  • Confirm frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces; no self‐service buffets.
  • Find ways to create physical space to minimize close contact as much as possible (at least 6 ft for normal activities).
  • Follow university face coverings protocol.

Consider Cancellation:

  • If any of the above recommendations cannot be met.
  • Consider the amount of spread in the local community and the communities from where your attendees are likely to travel.

Outdoors

10 People or More**

 

100 people or More**

Yes, primarily higher-risk

 

No, not primarily higher-risk

Cancel large gatherings, activities, and events such as athletic events or practices, or special performances.

Cancel events for groups of 10 people or more if attendees are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Indoors

Fewer than 10 people**


 

Fewer than 100 people**

Yes, primarily higher-risk


 

No, not primarily higher-risk

Event may occur but attendance by higher-risk populations should be discouraged and event organizers should:

  • Monitor changes in community spread.
  • Discourage attendance by higher-risk populations.*     
  • Prohibit attendance if sick.
  • Having hand washing capabilities, hand sanitizers and tissues available.    
  • Confirm frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces; no self‐service buffets.
  • Find ways to create physical space to minimize close contact as much as possible (at least 6 ft for normal activities).
  • Follow university face coverings protocol.

Consider Cancellation:

  • If any of the above recommendations cannot be met.
  • Consider the amount of spread in the local community and the communities from where your attendees are likely to travel.

Indoors

10 People or more**

Yes, primarily higher-risk

Cancel gatherings of more than 10 people for organizations that serve higher-risk populations.

Indoors

100 People or more**

No, not primarily higher-risk

Cancel event of more than 100 people.

*Higher-risk Populations, as defined by the CDC, include people who are: 1) 65 years old and older; 2) People with certain health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, moderate-to-severe asthma, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease and weakened immune systems.

**Subject to change based on State of MI Executive Orders


Substantial Spread-or- COVID-19 cases are on campus (regardless of community spread) (Risk Levels 1, 2, and maybe 3 depending on activity)

Location of Activity

 

Expected Attendance

Recommendations

Outdoors

Any

Cancel Event

Indoors

Any

Cancel Event

Local Public Health to help determine duration and extent of short term cancellations.


Common Considerations

  • Stay informed about the local COVID-19 situation
  • Update and distribute timely and accurate emergency communication information
  • Consider providing refunds to event participants who are unable to attend because they are at high risk and/or provide information on alternative viewing options.
  • Promote messages that discourage people who are sick from attending events.
  • Monitor changes in community spread.
    • If there is an increase in community spread of COVID-19, use the most appropriate event matrix and consider cancellation of the event
  • Discourage attendance by higher-risk populations*  
    • In any event that is for primarily low-risk populations, event materials should discourage attendance by higher-risk populations
  • Prohibit attendance if sick 
    • Event materials should prohibit those who are sick from attending.   
  • Having hand washing capabilities, hand sanitizers and tissues available.
  • Confirm frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces; no selfservice buffets  
    • Event organizers should develop a plan for cleaning and disinfecting event space before, during and after the event (see “Clean and Disinfect Event Space” below for more)
  • Find ways to create physical space to minimize close contact as much as possible
    • A physical distance of 6 feet should be maintained between event participants as much as possible
  • Follow university face coverings protocol.

Identify and address potential language, cultural, and disability barriers associated with communicating COVID-19 information to event staff and participants. 

Information you share should be easily understood by everyone attending the events. Learn more about reaching people of diverse languages and cultures by visiting: Know Your Audience. You also can learn more about communicating to staff in a crisis at: Crisis Communications Plan

Event materials should also:

  • Discourage attendance by higher-risk populations for their safety
  • Prohibit attendance if sick

Encourage staff and attendees to take everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread. 

  • 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

For more, visit CDC.

Create an emergency plan to 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.

Source: FAQs for Event Organizers & Individuals

Implement practices of worker health and hygiene. Event staff (workers and volunteers) must diligently address the health risks of working in the close confines of many event spaces. Follow HR and OSHA Guidelines for employee safety.

Identify a space that can be used to isolate staff or participants who become ill at the 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 face masks 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 your supervisor and follow university protocols regarding the possible case of COVID-19 at your event and how to communicate with staff and attendees about possible exposure to the virus.

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.


Special Considerations (After going through the above event matrix)

Goal is to maintain healthy operations.

Consider the following strategies:

  • Protections for People at Higher Risk for Severe Illness from COVID-19
    • Offer options for individuals at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 (risk increases with age, and people of any age with certain medical conditions are at higher risk), such as virtual opportunities.
    • Limit participation to people who live in the local geographic area (e.g., community, city, town, or county) to reduce risk of spread from areas with higher levels of COVID-19.
  • Regulatory Awareness
    • Be aware of state or local regulatory agency policies related to group gatherings to determine if events can be held.
  • Identifying Small Groups and Keeping them Together (Cohorting)
    • Keep people together in small groups with dedicated staff, and make sure that each group of people and staff avoid mixing with other groups as much as possible. 
  • Staggered Scheduling
    • Stagger arrival and drop-off times or locations by cohort (group) or put in place other protocols to limit contact between groups and others as much as possible.
  • Gatherings, Spectators, and Travel
    • Avoid group events, such as games, competitions, or social gatherings, where spacing of at least 6 feet between people cannot be maintained.
    • Limit any nonessential visitors, spectators, volunteers, and activities involving external groups or organizations as much as possible – especially with individuals not from the local geographic area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).
    • Avoid activities and events such as off-site competitions or excursions (e.g., watching a professional team compete).
  • Designated COVID-19 Point of Contact
    • Designate a program staff person to be responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns. All participants should know who this person is and how to contact them.
  • Communication Systems
    • Put systems in place for:
      • Consistent with applicable law and privacy policies, having participants self-report they have symptoms of COVID-19, a positive test for COVID-19, or were exposed to someone with COVID-19 within the last 14 days in accordance with health information sharing regulations for COVID-19
      • Notifying stakeholders about restrictions in place to limit COVID-19 exposure (e.g., limited hours of operation).
  • Leave (Time Off) Policies
  • Back-up Staffing Plan
    • Monitor absenteeism of staff, cross-train staff, and create a roster of trained back-up personnel.
  • Staff Training
    • Train staff on all safety protocols.
    • Conduct training virtually, or ensure that social distancing is maintained during training.
  • Recognize Signs and Symptoms
    • If feasible, conduct daily health checks (e.g., symptom checking) of staff and participants safely and respectfully, and in accordance with any applicable privacy and confidentiality laws and regulations.
    • Youth sports program administrators may use examples of screening methods found in CDC’s supplemental Guidance for Child Care Programs that Remain Open as a guide for screening children, and CDC’s General Business FAQs for screening staff.
  • Sharing Facilities
    • Encourage any organizations that share facilities to also follow these considerations.
  • Support Coping and Resilience
    • Consider posting signs for the national distress hotline:/1-800-985-5990, or text/TalkWithUs/to 66746

Reduce the Risk
Pursue options to convene sporting events and participate in sports activities in ways that reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to players, families, coaches, and communities.  

Designated COVID-19 Point of Contact
Designate an administrator or office to be responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns. All students, faculty and staff should know who this person is and how to contact them.

Resources: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/large-events/mass-gatherings-ready-for-covid-19.htm

                   https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/colleges-universities/considerations.html

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 spread.”

In addition to the above considerations, adhere to CDC guidance, State and County Public Health Guidance.