World Health Organisation issues new guidance for outdoor events and mass gatherings amid coronavirus

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has on Saturday issued new guidance for mass gatherings and outdoor events amid the coronavirus pandemic. The guidance included recommendations related to a number of possible changes to large events — once they’re allowed to take place.

Holding gatherings outdoors, limiting attendance to healthy people and staggering arrivals could all help curb the spread of the virus, according to the WHO guidance.

“In the context of Covid-19, mass gatherings are events that could amplify the transmission of the virus and potentially disrupt the host country’s response capacity,” the guidance read. However, it said large events offered benefits, too, such as providing employment and boosting psychological well-being.

“Since mass gatherings have substantial political, cultural, social, and economic implications, authorities should assess the importance and necessity of an event and consider the option that it may take place, provided all associated public health risks are adequately addressed and mitigated,”

The WHO called on public health authorities and event organisers to conduct a risk assessment before any gathering and listed a number of steps organisers could adopt if large events do take place, such as:

  • Staggering arrivals
  • Increasing the frequency of transport
  • Designating seating
  • Venue capacity could also be adjusted
  • Events could be held virtually or outdoors

Some recommendations focused on participants, telling them to observe physical distancing, cough etiquette, and hand hygiene practices.

According to the guidance, people at risk of developing severe illness – including those over the age of 65 or with pre-existing medical conditions – could be advised to stay away, or special arrangements could be made for them.

The WHO recommendations involved a number of other measures as well, including limiting the duration of events and providing on-site isolation facilities for people who become sick.