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Safer In Person Gatherings Guide Update
For Labor Day weekend and beyond, a concise guide to reduce the risk of spreading COVID
As we go into Labor Day weekend and look forward to other fall and winter holidays, finding safer ways to be in community with others is a crucial way to support each other when recommendations from public health authorities fall short. As COVID wastewater levels and hospitalizations rise across the US and the school year begins, multilayered precautions reduce the risk of spreading COVID when we gather. Below is an update to our abbreviated guide, a preview of a forthcoming update of the toolkit on our website. Please share this update with those who are planning gatherings of all kinds.
How to have safer in person gatherings during ongoing COVID transmission
The act of planning for safer in person gatherings is one of solidarity, community care, and love. By implementing multiple layers of protection before, during, and after the gathering; we keep ourselves and our communities as protected as possible from the continued spread of COVID. The more layers of protection you can use together, the more you can reduce the risk of transmission.
Before the gathering
Mask indoors five days prior: Require attendees to mask consistently with the highest quality mask available to them, and to avoid high-risk activities (such as indoor dining, large gatherings without universal masking and other precautions, or travel) at least five days prior to the event.
Universal pre-event testing: Organizers should obtain and provide molecular (nucleic acid amplification test/NAAT or PCR) and/or rapid antigen tests (RATs) to attendees and require their use prior to the event. If PCR results are not available the same day, isolating or reducing contacts between the test collection and the event is important. If attendees are using Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs), they should test using a combined nose and throat sample, 24 hours before the event, as well as the day of the event. Free fast PCR testing is the best option, and we should demand that it be made publicly available by governments at all levels.
Check for symptoms & exposure: Require attendees to complete a symptom and exposure checklist prior to the event. If they’re showing symptoms of illness or have been exposed to COVID in the days leading up to the event, they should stay home.
During the gathering
Proof of vaccination: Require attendees to bring proof of vaccination, including boosters. They should have received their latest booster at least two weeks before the event. Exceptions should be made for those who cannot be vaccinated due to medical conditions.
Gather outdoors: Hold gatherings outdoors whenever possible. Because transmission can still occur outdoors, especially when you’re close together over a long period of time or in a location with awnings, walls or partial-coverage, we recommend masking, especially if the outdoor space may become crowded.
Universal masking: Require attendees to wear the highest-quality masks available to them. We recommend NIOSH-certified N95/KN95/KF94 grade masks or better, whenever possible. Other masks may be used if N95/KN95/KF94 are not accessible, but will not be as protective.
Ventilate and filter air: Improve indoor ventilation by opening all doors and windows and ensuring HVAC systems are fully functional and serviced. If you’re using a CO2 monitor, aim for near outdoor levels (around 400-800 ppm, depending on your location). Filter the air with HEPA filters or DIY Corsi-Rosenthal boxes. Note that filtration removes infectious aerosols but does not reduce CO2 gas levels.
Keep groups small and consistent: Limit the number of people in attendance and, if necessary, divide attendees into smaller groups for the duration of the event. This helps to minimize spread and makes contact tracing easier.
Provide substantive online options: Alternate options may include online attendance or live-streaming. Meaningful virtual options reduce fear of missing out for those who can’t attend due to exposure or symptoms. Hybrid gatherings are also valuable tools to further improve accessibility. They should never be used as a replacement for good in-person safety and/or accessibility standards.
After the gathering
Testing and symptom monitoring: Organizers should obtain and provide molecular (nucleic acid amplification test/NAAT or PCR) and/or rapid antigen tests (RATs) to attendees for post-event monitoring. NAAT or PCR testing should be performed 72 hours after the event. If attendees are using Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs), they should test using a combined nose and throat sample at 5, and again at 7 days after the event or sooner if they develop symptoms. In both cases, they should report any positive results. If testing is not accessible, attendees should monitor symptoms for 1 week. All attendees should report back any development of new symptoms following the event.
Contact tracing: Keep a list of attendees so you can ensure all participants have tested and reported their results back to you. If anybody tests positive or develops new symptoms within two weeks of the event, inform attendees who may have been exposed.
For detailed information about safer in person gatherings, visit: https://peoplescdc.org/2022/11/17/safer-in-person-gatherings/