Domestic Travel and Event Bans Event Professionals Need to Know

March 12, 2020

The NBA has suspended its season and the NCAA Tournament will be played without fans. Organizations around the country are reacting to the news of COVID-19 by encouraging “social distancing,” and federal, state and local governments are imposing bans on travel and large gatherings—all in the name of halting the spread of the virus. What that means for event professionals is that in many locations, canceling or postponing an event is not a choice, but a requirement.

Here’s what you need to know now on a national, state and city level. Please note, this story continues to develop.


President Trump issued a ban on travel from Europe on March 11. U.S. citizens returning from the 26 countries in Europe’s Schengen area, however, will be permitted to return to the country.

The CDC encourages all travelers to review this complete list of destinations and corresponding travel restrictions and warnings here before embarking on any international travel and is recommending travelers avoid all nonessential travel to the following European countries. The Department of State is also advising U.S. citizens to reconsider all travel abroad at this time. 

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Monaco
  • San Marino
  • Vatican City



California: Governor Gavin Newsom issued an announcement on March 11 banning gatherings of 250 or more people, and stated that a personal distance of at least 6 feet should apply to attendees at smaller meetings. Gatherings of individuals who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should be limited to no more than 10 people, while also following social distancing guidelines.

Colorado: On March 10, Governor Jared Polis declared a state of emergency. In a news conference, Polis stated, “To our state and our economy, it’s important for me to say declaring a state of emergency does not mean that Colorado isn’t open for business, or recreation, or tourism. We are.” 

Maryland: Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced a state of emergency after three confirmed cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the state on March 7, according to the state’s Department of Health

Massachusetts: Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency as cases statewide jumped by 51 to 92 as of March 11. Of that number, 70 are now connected to a meeting held by the biotech company Biogen from Feb. 24-27 at the Marriott Long Wharf in Boston.

Nevada: At press time, no meeting bans or restrictions have been issued. However, many organizations have proactively canceled large meetings and events.

New Jersey: The number of coronavirus cases in the tri-state area has tripled since Friday (March 6) — surging from 49 cases to 156 — and leading New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy to declare a state of emergency.

Ohio: Gov. Mike DeWine signed an order March 12 prohibiting gatherings of 100 or more people.

Oregon: On March 11, Governor Kate Brown announced a state-wide ban on meetings of 250 or more people. At this time, the ban is slated to last for four weeks. 

Washington: Following his declaration of a state emergency on Feb. 29, Governor Jay Inslee issued a proclamation on March 11 restricting gatherings of 250 or more people in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. Washington has been home to the majority of deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19. In addition, Inslee is discouraging packing into crowded bars, saying such socializing has become “unacceptable.”

Washington D.C.: While no formal ban has been issued, the DC Health Department on Monday recommended that all non-essential mass gatherings of 1,000 people or more be postponed or cancelled through March 31.



New York City: As of Monday (March 9) afternoon, New York has the most cases of COVID-19 in the country. That includes new cases in Westchester County, which has become one of the nation's biggest COVID-19 hotspots. Schools and houses of worship in the New York City suburb of New Rochelle will be shut down for two weeks as the state works to contain the nation’s biggest known cluster of COVID-19 cases, with more than 100 sickened. On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he intends to send the National Guard to help scrub public spaces and deliver food. March 12, Mayor Bill De Blasio declared a state of emergency in New York City.

San Francisco: On March 11, the city enacted a ban on gatherings of 1,000 or more people, including sporting events.

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.