COVID-19 Event and Gathering Guidelines

Emory now requires all students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19, regardless of work or study location, with exceptions only for those with approved medical or religious exemptions.

Events and Gatherings

“Events” or “gatherings” shall mean persons are physically present at a single location. Guidance for events or gatherings may also be applied to incidental gatherings but are not intended to guide density in transitory spaces. These guidelines govern all Emory-sponsored events, whether on campus or off campus.

Given our commitment to a reduced density on campus, we encourage the evaluation of both the risks and the benefits to the community when considering a gathering or event and require adherence to the measured approach that is outlined.

These guidelines are not intended to replace other university policies related to events and gatherings but are intended to complement those policies by providing guidelines to prevent transmission of COVID-19. Please refer to those policies for relevant guidance. These guidelines do not govern the university’s religious services, athletics programs, or use of fitness facilities, which are considered separately in the table of activities by alert level.

Guidance for events and gatherings are mapped to the table of activities by Emory’s two-state operating model. This status is determined by leadership and is informed by community prevalence of COVID-19 and other factors that indicate the need for more or less restrictive behavior. 

Guidelines for Large Gatherings (250+ participants)

While there are no restrictions on types of events or gatherings, large indoor gatherings that exceed 250 participants can pose higher risks. The following best practices and recommendations are advised to help support a safe and successful event:


  • Move large events outdoors when practical and reasonable.
  • If unable to move outdoors, reduce the event into smaller sections of fewer than 250 persons.
  • If unable to move outdoors or reduce into smaller sections, move into a space where the expected event size does not exceed 50 percent of the room’s capacity.

Length of Event

  • Bringing people together for longer periods of time poses more risks (CDC guidancethan shorter events. When possible, event planners should shorten the event time period.

Food and Beverage

If food and beverages are part of the event experience, the following guidance should be followed:

  • Whenever possible, limit receptions and cocktail hours to outdoor spaces.
  • Avoid buffet-style or self-serve food and beverage stations. Plated meals served by catering staff or enhanced individually wrapped/boxed meals are recommended.
  • Where possible, avoid filling the space to full capacity (50 percent is recommended), which would allow for additional spacing between tables. Tables should be a minimum of 6 feet apart.
  • Consider reducing individual table capacities (6 or fewer is recommended) to allow guests more space in between one another while seated.

Masks and Hygiene

  • Refer to this up-to-date masking guidance for information. Event coordinators should provide face masks at the entrance of events for those participants and guests who may prefer to wear masks. 
  • Provide hand sanitizer stations throughout the event space.


  • Communicate established safety measures (e.g., staying home if not feeling well) to participants and guests in advance of the event.
  • Request all visitors review Emory University’s visitor policy in advance of the event.
  • Strongly recommend that all participants and guests be vaccinated and test for COVID-19 prior to coming to a large campus event.

Responsibility for Adherence to Infection Prevention Measures

  • Every event organizer is responsible for following all current Emory guidelines and policies.
  • Mask requirements for certain gatherings depending on size and density may still be applied by the university. Masking is optional indoors on Emory’s campuses with select exceptions.
  • Because of increased personal risk, unvaccinated individuals should continue to wear masks indoors.
  • Event organizers should be familiar with the infection prevention measures (below) and encourage attendees to practice infection prevention guidelines.
  • Disregard for infection prevention measures among attendees may compromise the organizer’s ability to continue the current event or schedule future events.

Infection Prevention Measures

All attendees at events and gatherings should follow these infection prevention guidelines:

  • Do not come to an event if you are sick or have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Do not come to an event if you have been advised to quarantine or isolate by a health care provider, a public health official, Student Health Services, or the Emory Contact Tracing Team.
  • If you develop signs and symptoms of illness while at the event, please leave and seek medical assistance as appropriate.
  • Abide by the current mask guidelines.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Hand sanitizer and extra face coverings must be made available for attendees at events.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.

Environmental Cleaning

High-touch surfaces must be disinfected before and after every event by the event organizer.