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Suggestions for Hosting a COVID-Safe Event

Particularly in areas with substantial and high COVID-19 transmission levels, crowded settings, indoors or outdoors, increase the chances for transmission of disease including the virus that causes COVID-19. Several factors can contribute to the likelihood of attendees getting and spreading COVID-19 at events. This impacts the safety of our campus communities. 

Individuals who are exposed to or infected with COVID-19 at an event must endure not only the health consequences but also the impact of quarantine / isolation. Events where transmission occurs can result in the quarantine of many individuals and disrupt classes and other campus activities. 

Nobody wants to host or attend an event that becomes known for spreading COVID-19. Fortunately, individuals can take precautions before and during events to prevent COVID-19 exposure and spread. 

Considerations Associated with Hosting an Event 

Event organizers should consider the following factors when planning an event. 

  • Number of COVID-19 cases in the community—It is safest to have events when COVID-19 transmission levels are low or moderate in the event’s host county. Relevant data is available on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID Data Tracker County View and on the Ohio University COVID-19 Dashboard
  • Event setting—Outdoor events are safer than indoor events.
  • Event duration—Shorter events are safer than longer events. Being within six feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more (over a 24-hour period) greatly increases the risk of becoming infected and requires following the steps in the OHIO COVID-19 Protocol.
  • Number and crowding of people at the event—Smaller events are safer and reduce the likelihood of being exposed. Physical distancing at events can reduce transmission risk—for example, blocking off seats or modifying room layouts. 
  • Behavior of attendees during an event—Events that don’t encourage behaviors known to increase transmission can help minimize risk. Behaviors that can increase risk of infection include serving alcohol, singing, shouting, not maintaining distance, and not wearing masks consistently and correctly.

The Presidential Health Directives outline public health requirements for all students, faculty, staff, and visitors. In addition to these regulations, we offer the following recommendations that event hosts should implement to promote healthy behaviors.  

Promoting Healthy Behaviors that Reduce Spread 

Event planners should consider implementing strategies to encourage behaviors that reduce the spread of COVID-19 among staff and attendees. The following actions will contribute to a safe event with little COVID impact. 

  • Event hosts should consider hosting outdoor events or, if hosting an indoor event, using a space where people don’t have to gather unnecessarily closely. 
  •  Hosts who want to minimize risk of infection can recommend that guests maintain six feet of distance from non-household members or create pods of not more than 10 attendees. Event hosts should track who is in each pod, and only individuals who were in a pod with an infected individual would be considered close contacts should an exposure occur.
  • Hosts should track attendance and seat locations for all attendees. 
  • If food is served, outdoors is safer than indoors, and seated, served meals or controlled buffets are safer than self-serve options. Ensure you have hand sanitizer and adequate food safety equipment (utensils, gloves, masks, etc.) available.  
  • Encourage attendees ahead of the event to bring and use masks. Have masks on hand to provide to staff and attendees who do not bring their own.
  • Advise event staff and attendees to stay home if they have tested positive for COVID-19, are waiting for COVID-19 test results based on symptoms or exposure, have COVID-19 symptoms, or if they have had close contact with a person who has tested positive for or who has symptoms of COVID-19. 
  • Discourage attendees and staff from greeting others with physical contact (for example, handshakes). Include this reminder on signs about physical distancing. 
  • Ensure that you have adequate supplies to support healthy hygiene. Supplies include soap, water, hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol, a way to dry hands (e.g., paper towels, hand dryer), tissues, disinfectant wipes, masks (as feasible), and no-touch trash cans. 
  • Post signs in highly visible locations (for example, at entrances, in restrooms) that promote everyday protective measures and describe how to stop the spread of germs by properly wearing a mask, and washing hands. 
  • Include messages about behaviors that prevent the spread of COVID-19 when communicating with staff, vendors, and attendees (such as on the invitation, on the event website, and through event social media accounts). 
  • Encourage attendees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. How to get a vaccine 
  • Make a plan beforehand for how compliance with the Presidential Health Directives will be monitored and ensured. Identify a single point of contact who will liaise with COVID Operations should the need arise.