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Coronavirus Guidance for Event Planners

On March 5, the university issued enhanced event policy measures in response to growing concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19):

Large On- and Off-Campus Events

Effective Monday, March 16, per CDC guidance, events should be restricted to less than 50 people. This includes events sponsored by the university, colleges, schools, departments or units, as well as student-sponsored events.

To facilitate social distancing and in compliance with New York State regulations, occupancy in campus venues is now restricted to half the posted maximum occupancy. Meetings and events should be held in venues with maximum occupancies at least two times the number of people attending. Attendees should be encouraged to spread out in the venue and maintain six feet of separation between people.

In all instances, individuals should consider use of technology, such as Zoom videoconferencing, rather than in-person meetings. While we understand that such cancellations are disruptive and disappointing, it is essential that we prioritize both the health and safety of our campus community as well as our alumni, friends and visitors. The following guidance is for event planners who have, or are in the process of, scheduling events on the Ithaca campus. Please note that this guidance and above policy are subject to change. Visit the Event Planning website for the latest updates. General infection control practices are a major component of this guidance and are applicable year-round.

Attendance Recommendations

  • Visitors who have been in an affected area (currently mainland China, South Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan) within the past 14 days are not allowed to visit campus. Please note that this list may change depending on guidance from the New York State Department of Health and U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
  • Event planners/organizers should promote messages and policies that discourage anyone who is feeling ill from attending or working at the event.
  • If you are charging a fee, consider flexible refund policies for participants who are sick or from travel restricted areas.
    • University or college units should refer to the “How do I handle costs associated with cancellations due to the coronavirus outbreak?” information in the Frequently Asked Questions section of the Cornell Coronavirus Updates web page.
  • If possible, provide options for remote viewing of your event (Zoom, webcast, etc.).  Cornell Information Information Technologies provides the following resources:

General Infection Control Recommendations

  • Download and post this NYS DOH “Protect yourself from COVID-19” poster or this CDC “Stop the spread of germs” poster prominently at your event.
  • Download and post these Cornell Health posters at your event. (net-ID required to download)
  • Inform participants of the locations of restrooms and hand washing stations.
    • If you need additional directional signage or outdoor hand washing stations please contact Facilities Event Support event_support@cornell.edu 607-255-3751
  • Work with Building Care staff to:
    • Ensure restrooms remain stocked with supplies and that paper towel, toilet paper and soap dispensers are in proper working order
    • Ensure frequently touched objects and surfaces are regularly cleaned and disinfected (Building Care has existing protocols for this)
    • Evaluate the presence and availability of portable hand sanitizer units (at least 60% alcohol) and add units or pump bottles of sanitizer if needed
  • Evaluate your event operations for common touch points (e.g. registration table, shared pens, etc.) and consider ways to eliminate them or regularly clean and disinfect them.  This type of cleaning may be outside the scope of Building Care services so consider assigning someone to this task.  Provide them with nitrile gloves and disinfectant cleaning wipes.
  • Avoid the use of games and activities that use shared equipment or surfaces such as inflatable games, shared helmets, etc.
  • Include links to the Cornell Coronavirus (COVID19) Resources and Updates web site https://www.cornell.edu/coronavirus/ in your event materials and web pages.

General Infection Control Recommendations for Event Staff and Volunteers

The CDC recommends preventative actions to reduce the risk of developing the flu or other respiratory diseases, including:

  • Frequent hand washing
  • Using hand sanitizer if hand washing is not an option
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objected and surfaces

Event organizers should also:

  • Prepare for personnel shortages due to illnesses and make sure your event develops plans to ensure your event can continue. Strategies for addressing personnel shortages include good documentation and cross training.
  • Send sick volunteers and staff home and do not allow them to work or attend the event.
  • Develop plans and procedures in case you need to cancel or postpone your event.

Food Service: These guidelines apply to all food service, including carryout and delivery foods.

  • Provide alcohol-based sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) in food serving and dining areas.  These could be units available on individual tables, in the food line, or stationed in easily accessible areas within the dining area. 
  • Eliminate self‐serve bowls of items like pretzels and chips.  Provide single serving packages or pre-filled single serving bowls instead.
  • Food service areas must have bakery tissue available that patrons can use to handle common use objects such as tongs, coffee dispensers, or food items (e.g., cookies, muffins).
  • Event setup should minimize the proximity of food to the flow of pedestrian traffic.

Illness During the Event

  • Anyone who is ill should leave the event and seek medical care if necessary.
    • In case of a medical emergency notify Cornell Police by calling 911 or 607-255-1111
  • Cornell students who are ill can contact Cornell Health at 607-255-5155.
  • Cornell faculty, staff and visitors should contact their personal physician or other medical providers.
  • Local medical urgent and emergency care facilities (not an endorsement of any particular provider):
    • Cayuga Medical Center Emergency Department – (607) 274-4011 – 101 Dates Dr, Ithaca, NY 14850
    • Convenient Care at Ithaca – (607) 274-4150 – 10 Arrowwood Dr, Ithaca, NY 14850 – affiliated with Cayuga Medical Center
    • Guthrie Walk-In Care – (607) 299-7676 – 3993 West Rd, Cortland, NY 13045
    • wellNOW Urgent Care – (607) 319-4563 – 740 South Meadow St, Ithaca, NY 14850