29 May 2020

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

29 May 2020


In view of the serious impact of COVID-19 across the globe, and its high risk of spreading within a community, the ‘Task Force on Social and Non-academic Events and Workplace Arrangements during COVID-19’ has been established 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.


The World Health Organization (WHO) and the HKSAR Government have already declared COVID-19 a pandemic and raised it to the emergency level. It is also important to note that no effective vaccine and definitive treatment against COVID-19 are available up to now and the virus could cause a tragic loss of human life.

To reduce the risk of spreading the virus, all departments/units are strongly advised NOT to organize any large-scale events and events involving catering. If it is necessary to host an event, the organizers are strongly advised to consider alternative ways or formats to avoid gathering. Group dining activities should be avoided as far as possible. If it is absolutely necessary to organize large-scale events, e.g. in accordance with statutory requirements, the organizers should implement effective preventive measures to control and limit the transmission of the virus with consideration on social distancing, crowd and environmental control like providing hand sanitizers, arranging body temperature check and requiring participants to wear surgical masks or other measures judged necessary.

In this challenging and unprecedented time, a set of referencing guidelines is provided below to help organisers to consider whether to continue, postpone or cancel an event. 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

  • To reduce the risk of infection, all departments/units are strongly advised NOT to organize any large-scale events.
  • If it is a statutory requirement to host the event, ensure the event is 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 (e.g. sports games) and activities where the participants have to take off their surgical masks (e.g. singing).
  • Explore alternative ways or formats for hosting the event, like live streaming or a digital platform, so that it could be conducted in a safe environment to minimise physical contact and interaction among people and engage them by other means.
  • Limit the number of participants in not more than 50 and reduce the number of participants to ensure social distancing of 6 feet all the time.

Finance and Insurance

  • Consider fee refund or waive any penalty charges to the participants, vendors, and other parties concerned, if the event is to be postponed or cancelled as a result of the development of COVID-19.
  • Check the insurance policies and terms on event postponement or cancellation.

Event Operation


  • 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. Those with body temperature higher than 37.5°C should not be allowed to attend the event.
  • All participants should wear surgical masks, and practice social distancing with at least 6 feet’s social distance between participants.
  • Observe the current HKSAR Government and the University’s guidelines and regulations on infection control and social distancing.
  • 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

  • Keep track on where the participants will be coming from if the activity involves any participants who have been to any overseas countries/areas in the past 14 days. Check their status to know if they have been in quarantine for 14 days.
  • 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 found.
  • Manage the expectations of the participants if the event has to be postponed or cancelled.

Physical Contact

  • Redesign the programme or shorten the duration of the event for the sake of reducing physical contact or interaction time.
  • Avoid any close contact during the event, e.g. shaking hands, and activities/games involving body contact.
  • Keep at least 6 feet’s social distance between participants all the time.
  • Stagger the arrival and departure time of participants.
  • Set up physical distancing arrangements in toilet areas.


  • Provide hand sanitizers for all participants and workers.
  • Ensure all participants, performers 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 the participants have to remove their surgical masks, event organizers are advised to cancel all catering/dining arrangements 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:
    • 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 (if available) to the authorities to facilitate efficient contact tracing.
  • Make available a contingency plan for cancelling the event when unpredicted situation occurs.


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 21 May 2020. This document will be reviewed and revised regularly 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