On Friday June 12 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published guidelines for events and gatherings ranging from lowest risk (virtual-only) to highest risk (large, in-person, where difficult to space at least six feet apart and attendees come from other areas).  The guidelines arrive at a time when cities and states have begun to relax COVID-19 restrictions and are experiencing mass demonstrations related to racial injustice in the United States.   In Considerations for Events and Gatherings, the CDC states that “[b]ecause COVID-19 virus circulation varies in communities, these considerations are meant to supplement—not replace—any state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations with which gatherings must comply.”  The CDC guidelines provide recommendations for event planners and links to other relevant CDC guidelines, covering the following topics:

  • Promoting Healthy Behaviors that Reduce Spread – staying home when appropriate; hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette; cloth face coverings; adequate supplies; and signs and messages.
  • Maintaining Healthy Environments – cleaning and disinfection; restrooms; ventilation; waiter systems; modified layouts; physical barriers and guides; communal spaces; food service; and shared objects.
  • Maintaining Healthy Operations – regulatory awareness; protections for staff and attendees who are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19; limited, staggered, or rotated shifts and attendance times; travel & transit; designated COVID-19 point of contact; communication systems; leave (time off)policies; back-up staffing plan; staff training; recognize signs and symptoms; sharing facilities; support coping and resilience; and lessons learned after the event.
  • Preparing For When Someone Gets Sick – advise sick individuals of home isolation criteria; isolate and transport those who are sick; clean and disinfect; and notify health officials and close contacts.

The CDC also provided updated tips for individuals, entitled Deciding to Go Out.   The guidelines provide considerations for everyday activities such as going to the bank; dining at a restaurant; hosting gatherings or cook-outs; using gyms or fitness centers; going to nail salons; visiting libraries; and traveling overnight.   In the CDC Media Telebriefing on June 12, Dr. Jay Butler cautioned that “ [t]he more closely you interact with others, the longer the interaction lasts and the greater the number of people involved in the interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread.”

Norton Rose Fulbright attorneys will continue to provide relevant updates for healthcare providers on the Health Law Pulse related to the COVID-19 pandemic.