Updated Sept. 6, 2022
In 2022, the Washington State Department of health developed a long-term plan to keep people safe and healthy through the next phase of the pandemic. See the ForWArd plan and associated press release for more information. Most businesses and organizations are able to operate as they did prior to the pandemic and are not required to maintain capacity limits, provided they follow workplace safety requirements from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. Learn more
Precautions to Consider
If you are planning a private or public event or gathering, there are several things you can do to reduce the risk of attendees being exposed to COVID-19. Below are some common recommendations and resources for anyone planning indoor or outdoor events.
Understand Community Levels
COVID-19 is still present in our communities; but as we all know by now, the number of people who are infected fluctuates over time. When local community levels are high, you may want to consider modifying your event to include enhanced safety precautions (more on that below) or, in some cases, it may be prudent to reschedule. Use the CDC’s COVID-19 County Check to keep an eye on transmission rates in Spokane County to help you plan or adjust your event.
Consider Required or Suggested Testing
Another measure event planners can take is to require or recommend testing. You can do this in one of two ways:
- Request attendees to test before arrival. Free tests are available from Washington state and you can share this information with attendees. Learn more here.
- You can provide rapid tests at your event and offer or require them at entrances. Multiple vendors now offer products to meet this need, and they are widely available online.
Increase Ventilation or Take the Party Outside
Another straightforward measure you can take to protect the health and safety of your guests is to either plan to:
- Hold the event outside, or
- Increase the ventilation and filtration in indoor spaces where the event will take place
People are less likely to get infected with COVID-19 at outdoor activities than at indoor activities. Virus particles are quickly dispersed in outdoor spaces. In crowded, indoor settings, the viral particles an infected person breathes out can build up over the course of an event and increase the likelihood of someone else (or many others) breathing them in.
If the event must be held indoors, you can still take steps to reduce risk. Here are some options:
- Open windows and doors to allow more fresh air in
- Use fans and exhaust fans to increase air flow and pump air outside
- Increase air filtration in your HVAC system by changing filters frequently, ensuring they’re well fitted and turning the thermostat to the “on” position so that it provides consistent air flow and filtering
- Use portable high-efficiency particular air (HEPA cleaners)
Learn more about ventilation and filtration
Masks – Make Them Available and Require or Encourage Use
Masks have been shown to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and they continue to be an effective preventive measure. In some settings, you may want to make masks available for attendees and make very clear rules or guidance about how they should be used. Masks are an especially good idea at events that are indoor and crowded.
Keep in mind, not all masks are made the same, so it’s a good idea to review recommended mask types and designs before purchasing them for an event.
The best thing that anyone can do prior to attending an event can do is get vaccinated and complete their primary series and all recommended boosters at least two weeks before the vent. Vaccination is safe and effective and it greatly reduces the risk of severe illness with COVID-19.
More about COVID-19 vaccination
Consider Offering Refunds
Throughout the pandemic, encouraging people to stay home when sick has been a key way to prevent spreading COVID-19, and the same is true today. Event organizers charging admission for an event may want to consider instating a clear refund policy. Individuals who become ill too close the event date may be less likely to try to attend while infectious if they are able to have their ticket costs refunded. Making it easier for people to make this choice will help make your event safer.
What to Do If an Attendee Tests Positive
If an attendee contacts you to notify you that they have tested positive for COVID-19 and may have been infectious during the event,* SRHD recommends that you notify other attendees that a positive case was present at the event and advise them to get tested if they develop symptoms.
*An individual infected with COVID-19 may be infectious (able to spread the virus to others) for up to two days before symptom development or positive test.