Coronavirus and Meetings
to see Northstar Meetings Group’s comprehensive and continuing coverage of how coronavirus is affecting meetings.
Updated March 31, 2020, 2:53pm EDT
As the novel coronavirus and its related illness, COVID-19, continues to spread throughout the world, leaders in a number of countries and cities have worked to fight its progress by discouraging large gatherings of people, where the illness could be more easily passed from person to person. To that end, officials in a handful of destinations have announced temporary bans of large gatherings. Here is a roundup of places that have prohibited or warned against gatherings.
For the latest updates of individual events and conferences that have been confirmed, postponed or canceled due to COVID-19, go to Northstar Meetings Group's running list, here.
On March 30, President Donald Trump extended through the end of April the federal guidelines that all Americans should avoid nonessential travel, going to work or out to eat and avoid gatherings of 10 people or more. State leaders continued to put stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, with many prohibiting gatherings of any kind. Here are where the state restrictions now stand:
Gov. Kay Ivey has stated she does not plan to issue a statewide order, but the city of Birmingham has imposed a shelter-in-place order, effective March 24.
Effective March 28, the state has had a stay-at-home order in place. Previously, Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz issued an order beginning March 22 asking all residents to “shall stay at home as much as possible, except to work in certain critical jobs, listed below; to buy, sell, or deliver groceries or other important goods; to receive or provide health care; and to get fresh air without contacting others."
On March 19, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered a statewide lockdown, requiring the state's 40 million residents to remain at home, cancelling all gatherings and closing nonessential businesses. On March 12, Newsom had ordered a statewide cancellation of all events over 250 people through the end of the month, and is "likely to be extended," according to the governor. On March 17, he asked all dine-in restaurants, gyms and movie theaters to close and encouraged local bans on gatherings of any size, saying "directing that no gatherings [take place] is considered advanced in this state ... We believe it is rational at this moment.
Several areas of the state, including Denver, Boulder and Pitkin County have issued "stay-at-home" orders. On March 13, Colorado Governor Jared Polis announced he was "issuing guidance" encouraging cancellation of large public gatherings of over 250 people “unless they can successfully take steps” to limit contact between people to six feet. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock then banned events at city-owned facilities, including Red Rocks, through April 12.
Gov. Ned Lamont imposed a stay-at-home order, effective March 23 at 8 p.m., which ordered that, "Non-essential public community gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason should be canceled (e.g. parties, celebrations or other social events) are canceled or postponed at this time."
Gov. John Carney announced a shelter-in-place order effective March 24 at 8 p.m., which includes the requirement that "Delawareans should refrain from organizing or attending social gatherings of any size, except for regular interactions with immediate family members, members of the same household, caregivers, or individuals with whom you have a close personal relationship."
Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a stay-at-home order for southeast Florida. A number of Florida counties — Alachua, Broward, Hillsborough, Leon, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach and Pinellas — as well as Palm Coast have issued stay-at-home orders.
A number of cities and counties — Atlanta, Blakely, Carrolton, Savannah, Athens-Clarke County and Dougherty County — have issued stay-at-home or shelter-in place orders.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige issued a stay-at-home order effective March 25, which included the prohibition of gatherings of 10 people or more.
Gov. Brad Little has issued a stay-at-home order, effective March 25.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker put a stay-at-home order in place effective March 21 at 5 p.m., which bans gatherings of more than 10 people.
Gov. Eric J. Holcomb asked "Hoosiers to hunker down" with a stay-at-home order, prohibiting large gatherings, effective March 24.
After a number of counties — Douglas, Johnson, Leavenworth, Sedgwick, Wyandotte — issued stay-at-home orders, Gov. Laura Kelly expanded this statewide with a stay-at-home order effective March 30.
Gov. Andy Beshear ordered all non-essential businesses to cease operations by March 26 and imposed a "healthy at home" initiative asking residents to stay at home.
Gov. John Bel Edwards announced a stay-at-home order effective March 23 at 5 p.m.
The city of Portland has imposed a stay-at-home order, effective March 25.
The state imposed a stay-at-home order, effective March 30. "We are no longer asking or suggesting that Marylanders stay home," said Gov. Larry Hogan. "We are directing them to do so."
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker issued a stay-at-home advisory, going into effect March 24 at 12 p.m. The order "limits gatherings to 10 people during the state of emergency, a reduction from the 25 person limit established in an earlier order."
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an order, effective March 24, that all residents "remain at home or in their place of residence to the maximum extent feasible." She had previously banned events over 50 people until at least April 5.
Gov. Tim Walz issued a stay-at-home order, effective March 27.
The mayor of Oxford has directed citizens to stay at home asking "every single citizen of Oxford to do their part."
A number of Missouri cities and counties have issued stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, including St. Louis (city and county), Kansas City and Jackson County.
On March 22, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy cancelled all gatherings as he ordered all residents to stay home and nonessential business to close. “Any place people congregate is a place where coronavirus can be spread," he said. "This is no time for anyone to be acting selfishly and taking a gathering underground.” Previously, the state's leaders, with those of New York and Connecticut, announced on March 16 they would prohibit crowds of 50 or more "until further notice."
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued a stay-at-home order, effective March 24 at 8 p.m. It prohibits "mass gatherings" of five or more people.
Beginning March 22, New York State went into statewide lockdown, banning all gatherings and closing all nonessential businesses. With Connecticut and New Jersey, the state's leaders had announced on March 16 they would prohibit crowds of 50 or more "until further notice." New York City cancelled all Broadway shows for four weeks, through April 12.
Gov. Roy Cooper issued a statewide stay-at-home order, effective March 30. Previously, Mecklenburg County, which includes Charlotte, was under instructions to stay at home. Previously, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced state officials will begin recommending people postpone or cancel events of over 100 people.
Gov. Mike DeWine issued a stay-at-home order, effective March 23 at 11:59 p.m. He had previously issued an order banning events of more than 100 people.
While there has been no statewide order, Oklahoma City has had a stay-at-home order in place, effective March 25, while Norman and Tulsa imposed shelter-in-place directives effective March 28.
Gov. Kate Brown issued a stay-at-home order, effective March 23. On March 16, Brown announced a statewide ban, effective immediately, of all public events of 25 people or more. “The actions we take today will save lives,” Brown said in a statement.
Effective March 23 at 8 p.., citizens in seven of the state's hardest-hit counties (Philadelphia, Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Monroe, Montgomery and more) were ordered to stay home. On March 19, Gov. Tom Wolf demanded that all "non-life-sustaining" businesses close their doors beginning at 8 p.m. and that "Enforcement actions against businesses that don’t close will begin Saturday and could include citations, fines & license suspensions."
Gov. Gina Raimondo issued a stay-at-home order, effective March 28.
The cities of Charleston and Columbia have imposed stay-at-home orders, effective March 26 and March 29, respectively.
Those living in the cities of Memphis and Franklin, as well as Davidson County, had been ordered to stay home and Gov. Bill Lee then issued a statewide directive for all of Tennessee, effective March 31.
While Gov. Greg Abbott left it to local officials to impose restrictions, a long list of cities and counties have imposed stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, includingAmarillo, Bexar County, Dallas County, Harris County and Tarrant County.
Summit County residents have been ordered to stay at home, effective March 27, while a stay-at-home directive was released for Salt Lake County, effective March 30. On March 12, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s called on gatherings of 100 people or more to be suspended.“Today we stopped making decisions based on the hope that things will get better,” he said in announcing the guideline.
Gov. Phil Scott released a stay-at-home order, effective March 25.
Gov. Ralph Northam shut down schools and banned gatherings of more than 10 people, issuing a stay-at-home order, effective March 30.
Mayor Muriel E. Bowser issued a stay-at-home order for all residents, effective April 1. Previously, the public health department of Washington, D.C. issued a health advisory recommending that all "non-essential mass gatherings" of 1,000 people or more be postponed or canceled through March 31. "We also recommend that any social, cultural, or entertainment events where large crowds are anticipated be reconsidered by the organizer," Mayor Muriel Bowser said. Events DC, the city's CVB, announced that it would suspend operations and business from March 13 until the end of the month.
Gov. Jay Inslee imposed a stay-at-home order on March 23. Inslee announced on March 11 that the state would ban any events of more than 250 people through the end of March and said it was "very likely" it would extend beyond that. “This is an unprecedented public health situation and we can’t wait until we’re in the middle of it to slow it down,” Inslee said during a press conference. “We’ve got to get ahead of the curve. One main defense is to reduce the interaction of people in our lives.”
On March 23, Gov. Jim Justice issued a "stay-at-home" order, shutting down schools, restaurants and other gathering places while asking West Virginians to "limit movements outside beyond essential needs."
Gov. Tony Evers elevated his initial "Safer at Home" initiative to a stay-at-home order, effective March 25.
The city of Jackson, site of Jackson Hole, has issued a stay-at-home order, effective March 28.
Countries that have banned or restricted events
Quebec extended its ban on gatherings of all sizes to March 29. The provincial governments of Ontario and British Columbia banned events of 50 people or more on March 16.
Denmark's borders were closed from March 14 through April 13, with all events of more than 100 people banned.
On March 10, the Czech Republic indefinitely banned all events involving more than 100 people, including film and theater shows and cultural, sports and religious gatherings. The announcement came as the prime minister announced the closure of all schools and universities, as well as visits to retirement homes and hospitals.
On March 9, France announced a ban of public gatherings of more than 1,000 people, with exceptions for events considered "useful to national life," a list of which officials said they would provide. This decision replaced the Feb. 29 decision to ban any event of more than 5,000 people held in a "confined space." This ban was set to run until April 15, though the new, stricter ban was not given a limit.
"The coming weeks will be difficult," Health Minister Olivier Véran said after an emergency meeting with President Emmanuel Macron. "This evening we are still in the 'second stage', meaning that our priority is to do everything to slow the spread of the virus in our national territory."
On March 22, Germany banned groups of more than two people from gathering and the policy was to be in place for at least two weeks. “Our own behavior is currently the most effective antidote we have: to reduce public life as much as is possible, to reduce contact with people through whom the virus could be transmitted," said Chancellor Angela Merkel, who went into isolation herself at the time as it was learned her doctor had tested positive for coronavirus.
The Ministry of Health in Greece announced a ban on large events and conferences of 1,000 people or more until April 5. All sporting events in the country will be played behind without fans.
The Republic of Ireland announced a nationwide shutdown on March 12, closing schools, public offices and live events. The country's leader, Leo Varadkar, urged that all meetings take place remotely.
The Italian government quarantined the entire country on March 9. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte declared the entire country a "red zone," requiring that people stay home except for work demands and emergencies. He introduced the slogan, "I am staying home. Italy is a protected zone."
The country's leaders announced a two-week lockdown on March 16, including all mass gatherings.
On March 12, the Dutch government imposed a ban on public gatherings of more than 100 people through the end of March, closing museums and tourist attractions such as the Anne Frank House.
On March 19, New Zealand's government imposed a ban against indoor events of more than 100 people. "For any gathering or event you need to ensure people can stay further than one metre apart, and have the ability to wash and dry their hands thoroughly," said New Zealand Health Minister David Clark.
On March 12, Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced that the country would be all but shutting down for the next two weeks, closing all schools and universities as well as businesses such as hairdressers and gyms. All cultural and sports events, both indoor and outdoor, will also be banned.
Poland's government banned all "mass events" starting on March 10. This includes events of 300–500 people. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki stated that “the steepness of the upward curve of the infections depends on us. We need to avoid large gatherings... Let me remind you that already a couple of hundreds of people were hospitalized in Poland.”
On March 12, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that gatherings of more than 500 people in Scotland should be cancelled. She emphasized that the move would relieve pressure on emergency service and health workers: "We know that certain events have an impact on our policing and frontline health services," she said."Our health services in particular will be under acute pressure in the weeks and months to come. I think it is incumbent on the government to do what we can to remove unnecessary burdens on our public services."
On March 24, Singapore's Ministry of Health banned events of all sizes, in response to an uptick in cases. It was a tightening of a just-released set of strict measures aimed at reducing the transmission of the COVID-19 virus, including a number of specific points related to event venues and gatherings.
On March 10, Spain's government banned all public events of more than 1,000 people in Madrid, two areas in the Basque Country and La Rioja.
The Swedish government has introduced a temporary ban on events with more than 500 people following a request from the Public Health Agency. It goes into effect March 12, with no time limit specified.
On March 16, the country's government banned all private and public events and mobilized the military to fight the spread of COVID-19.
In a March 23 televised address, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a national lockdown, including prohibiting gatherings of more than two people. “We will stop all gatherings of more than two people in public – excluding people you live with,” he said. “And we’ll stop all social events, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals.”