As much of the country moves towards re-opening, organizers of religious and community activities are wondering about how best to start in-person gatherings. As always, you should follow CDC and local public health guidance regarding gathering and crowd size at the minimum. Here are some things to think about as you plan:
- Outside is safer than inside: Holding events like movie nights, worship services, and small groups outside will reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 compared to hosting the same activities indoors.
- Set up for physical distancing success: Most people are eager to maintain physical distancing. Set your group up for success by marking grass, or placing chairs at least 6 feet apart, so people can use these physical cues to maintain distance.
- Limit the duration: Shorter exposure time to other people decreases the risk of getting COVID-19. While there is no firm limit, shorter is better than longer.
- Provide hand sanitizer: Encourage frequent hand hygiene by making hand sanitizer readily available.
- Remind people about masking: Everyone at the event should wear a face covering. As a leader, be ready to help people with this guideline by having extra masks and reminding people to wear their masks. Speakers who are using microphones can take off their masks while they are speaking.
- Use technology: Use microphones and amplifiers to make sure that presenters do not have to project their voices, which increases the number and distance that droplets travel.
- Make sure at-home options remain available: Continue live-streaming or other broadcasting methods so that those who are high risk, symptomatic, or maintaining higher levels of distancing can still participate.
- Eliminate live vocal music: Singing can spread COVID even with 6 feet of distance. Protect your attendees by cancelling live vocal music including soloists, choirs/choruses, and congregational singing.
These are just a few of the ways to make your in-person event safer in the time of COVID. For additional advice, please see our posts on: public restrooms, barbeques, and advice for thinking through risk. For specific discussion of worship services, see this example, and this discussion regarding outdoor worship.
Last update: June 11, 2020, 08:08 am ET
Science review: GNA, JAB, ERS