CDC Recommends No Gatherings of 50 People or More For Next Eight Weeks
As of March 15, the CDC is recommending that for the next eight weeks (until at least May 4), all events consisting of 50 people or more be postponed or canceled.
According to the statement: “Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities. Examples of large events and mass gatherings include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies. These events can be planned not only by organizations and communities but also by individuals.”
Events of any size should only be continued if they can safely adhere to the guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations, hand hygiene and social distancing, according to the CDC. As much as possible, organizers should modify events to be virtual. (Find tips on what to consider before going digital here.)
The CDC’s recommendation does not apply to the day-to-day operations of organizations such as schools, colleges or businesses; however, many of these organizations are also closing down today at least through the end of this month.
Reacting to this announcement, the Meetings Mean Business Coalition has issued the following statement today:
“As industry leaders who are driven by a responsibility to our clients, customers and employees, this is certainly not a directive we were hoping to see. However, it is one we intend to follow.
We applaud the industry professionals who are managing as best they can through this difficult and unanticipated situation – including those who are going above and beyond to promote lenience, provide solutions and contribute in significant ways to their communities.
We understand the months – even years – of work that precede major meetings and we recognize the incredible benefits that these gatherings bring to people, businesses and the economy. Yet even as meetings are being cancelled and postponed, employees at every level are continuing to donate food, time and free public services. There is perhaps no greater testament to the industry’s value and collective strength.
That’s why in lockstep with our partners from across the globe, the Meetings Mean Business Coalition will lead the industry’s efforts to promote fact-based decision-making and broaden awareness of the industry’s commitment to serving the public during this period of crisis and uncertainty.
We are here to help, and in addition to providing updates and coordinating with experts from the health and safety community, we will help lead the way with new resources; communications assistance for meeting professionals; a steady drumbeat of impact stories; and a plan for recovery.”
Below is a list of what to consider when postponing or cancelling a mass gathering, according to the CDC:
- The overall number of attendees. Larger gatherings offer more opportunities for person-to-person contact and therefore pose greater risk of COVID-19 transmission.
- The number of people attending who are at greater risk of more serious illness after contracting COVID-19. Older adults and persons with severe pre-existing health conditions are thought to be at increased risk.
- The density of attendees within a confined area. Based on what is currently known about the virus, spread from person-to-person happens most frequently among close contacts (within 6 feet).
- The potential economic impact to participants, attendees, staff and the larger community.
- The level of transmission in your local community and the level of transmission in the areas from which your attendees will travel. To better understand the level of community transmission in your community (and in the communities from which your attendees will be traveling), consult with your local and/or state public health department.
- If there are ways in which to significantly reduce the number of attendees. For example, for sporting events or school concerts, organizers could consider holding the event but significantly reduce the number of audience members.