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The Chinese University of Hong Kong Referencing Guidelines for Social and Non-academic Events during COVID-19

20 Jul 2021
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Background

The ‘Task Force on Social and Non-academic Events and Workplace Arrangements during COVID-19’ was established in 2020 by the Emergency Response Group led by the Vice-Chancellor, with an aim to set out a set of referencing guidelines for all internal event organisers to assess the risk of hosting social and non-academic events.

Objectives

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the HKSAR Government declare COVID-19 a pandemic. Although vaccination against COVID-19 is now available, we should stay vigilant against coronavirus infection which could cause a tragic loss of human life. In order to reduce the risk of spread of virus, all departments/units which plan to organize social and non-academic events are strongly advised to implement effective preventive measures to limit the transmission of the virus with consideration on social distancing, providing hand sanitizers, arranging body temperature check, requiring participants to wear surgical masks and other measures judged necessary. Organizers are always advised to consider alternative ways or formats to avoid large gathering. Group dining activities should also be avoided as far as possible.

In this challenging and unprecedented time, a set of referencing guidelines is provided to organisers. This set of referencing guidelines is not prescriptive, and the final decision will be rested on the event organisers. The development concerning COVID-19 is changing every day. All event organizers are advised to closely monitor the pandemic situation. They should refer to the updated announcements, guidelines and regulations issued by the WHO, the HKSAR Government, the University and its Committee on Health Promotion and Protection (CHPP) and adjust their event planning and organization.

It is important to control and manage events well in this critical time, otherwise they might turn into a crisis for the related unit, department and University.

Event Planning

Risk Assessment

  • Organisers should conduct a risk assessment for any event they are scheduling.
  • The event should be arranged in accordance with the HKSAR Government and the University’s guidelines and regulations on infection control.
  • Event organisers MUST observe current government policy on social distancing.

Nature and Scale

  • Organisers are strongly advised to avoid activities with frequent body contact.
  • Explore several ways or formats for hosting the event, like live streaming or a digital platform, so that it could reduce the number of participants and minimise physical contact and interaction among people.
  • Limit the number of participants by following the prevailing government regulations.
  • A quota will be set to limit the number of external participants visiting the campus. External organizations visiting the campus in groups should submit application form to the University on the campus visit.

Event Operation

Venue

  • Step up cleansing of the event venue.
  • Maintain good ventilation if the event is to be held indoors.
  • Arrange manpower to measure the body temperature for each participant in particular for events to be held indoor or in an enclosed area.
  • All participants should wear surgical masks, and practice social distancing with at least 1 meter’s distance between groups of participants.
  • Explore the possibilities of arranging the event outdoors with fresh air supply.
  • Consider digital systems to speed up the check-in/registration of participants to reduce the number of people lining up/gathering at the registration counter/venue entrance.

Staff, Workers and Participants

  • Avoid involving the elderly or people with health problems/special needs as they are at higher risk of COVID-19 infection.
  • Keep the contact details of participants and staff to facilitate contact tracing by the authorities in case any suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 is
  • Manage the expectations of the participants if the event has to be postponed or cancelled.

Physical Contact

  • Design the programme with shorter duration for the sake of reducing physical contact or interaction time.
  • Avoid any close contact during the event.
  • Keep at least 1 meter’s distance between groups of participants all the time.
  • Stagger the arrival and departure time of participants.
  • Set up physical distancing arrangements in toilet areas.

Hygiene

  • Provide hand sanitizers for all participants and workers.
  • Ensure all participants and workers wear surgical masks during the whole event.
  • Provide surgical masks for people in need.
  • Remind all participants and workers about personal hygiene and the protective measures to be taken before and during the event, e.g. sending notice to the participants beforehand; posting messages or signage on site.

Food and Beverage

  • Due to the high risk of infection involved in group dining activities, in which participants have to remove their surgical masks, event organizers are advised NOT to arrange any catering/dining during the events.

Facilities and Equipment

  • Arrange cleaning of the venue, entrance, exit, seats, toilets and all related facilities before and after the event.
  • Arrange manpower to disinfect the microphones and props after each use during the event.
  • If transport is provided to participants, ensure the cleaning of the vehicle and increase the frequency of transport provision.

Contact Tracing

  • If in the unfortunate situation that a confirmed COVID-19 case is identified and who has attended your event, please do the following immediately:
    • Report to the University’s Committee on Health Promotion and Protection (CHPP) at 3943-6436 (tel) or email: chpp@cuhk.edu.hk.
    • Report to the Head of Unit, College Head/ Master or Faculty Dean.
    • Contact the management unit of the venue to arrange disinfection.
  • Provide the contact list of participants and staff to the authorities to facilitate efficient contact tracing.
  • Make available a contingency plan for cancelling the event when unpredicted situation occurs.

Remarks

This set of referencing guidelines is prepared by the “Task Force on Social and Non-academic Events and Workplace Arrangements during COVID-19”, and is updated on 20 July 2021. This document will also be reviewed and revised in the light of measurers announced by the relevant authorities in connection with the development and impact of COVID-19. For more information, please visit “Act Together Against COVID-19 website at https://againstcovid19.cuhk.edu.hk/.