Agencies Won’t Need COVID-Related Size Approvals Anymore for In-Person Events, With a Few Exceptions
Updated guidance also covers entry provisions for onsite contractors and visitors to federal facilities.
Federal agencies are not restricted on the size of events they host, unless under certain conditions, according to new guidelines.
The Biden administration’s Safer Federal Workforce Task Force issued updated and new guidance on March 11, most of which reflects the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new framework released in late February. That framework “moves beyond just looking at cases and test positivity to evaluate factors that reflect the severity of disease, including hospitalizations and hospital capacity, and helps to determine whether the level of COVID-19 and severe disease are low, medium, or high in a community,” as CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on a briefing call.
There are no “restrictions on the size of agency-hosted in-person meetings, events, or conferences,” said one of the new “frequently asked question” prompts. “Should an agency intend to host a meeting, conference, or event that will be attended in-person by more than 50 participants at a facility in a county where the COVID-19 Community Level is HIGH, the agency should first seek the approval of its agency head or official to which this responsibility has been delegated, in consultation with the agency’s COVID-19 coordination team.”
If meetings, conferences or other events hosted by a federal agency are hosted in a facility in which the community level is “medium” or “high,” then attendees should be asked to provide information on their vaccination status, said the task force. Individuals who are not vaccinated or decline to give their status should give a negative COVID-19 test done within the previous three days and follow the necessary public health protocols.
According to the latest update from the CDC, most Americans live in a county with “low” community COVID-19 levels.
Guidance from the task force titled, “COVID-19 Workplace Safety: Agency Model Safety Principles,” as of September 2021, said: “Should an agency intend to host an in-person meeting, conference, or event that will be attended by more than 50 participants—regardless of whether participants include members of the public—the agency must first seek the approval of its agency head, in consultation with the agency’s COVID-19 coordination team.” In-person attendees had to be asked to provide information about vaccination status and if they were not fully vaccinated or declined to say their status, then they had to provide a negative COVID-19 test.
The updated guidance has the same provisions for vaccination statues for onsite contractors. For testing, “If a contractor employee is regularly tested pursuant to an agency testing program, then they do not need to be able to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test from within the previous three days when in a federal facility unless required to by the agency testing program,” said the update.
For visitors to federal facilities, the task force updated the vaccination and testing guidance similar to provisions for onsite contractors and event attendees. “At [General Services Administration]-controlled facilities, it is the responsibility of the occupant agency associated with the visitor to ensure that individuals accessing the facility have the appropriate documentation given their COVID-19 vaccination status,” said the update.
Visitors seeking a public benefit or service don’t have to provide information on their vaccination status or show a negative COVID-19 test.
Also, “delivery drivers, couriers, U.S. Postal Service employees, Federal Express employees, United Parcel Service employees, and other ‘transient visitors,’ meaning visitors accessing a federal facility for less than approximately 15 minutes who interact with very few people, should not be required to present a completed Certification of Vaccination form to the security officer as a condition of entry,” said the update. The same goes for “emergency personnel responding to an emergency in a federal facility.”