Guidance for Outdoor Gatherings During COVID-19

Benches in a grove of trees

Part of Strategies

Originally published June 2020. Latest revision December 1, 2021.

Although we are seeing promising signs in many locations, the UUA continues to urge congregations to use caution, even in outdoor settings.

Our recommendations were developed by our Safer Congregations Team in response to questions from congregations. Please use them in conjunction with our full UUA guidance for gathering during COVID-19.

Data show that the risks of transmission of COVID-19 are lower in outdoor settings. However, experts advise that facial coverings, physical distancing, and limits on singing still be in place. If you are considering holding an outdoor gathering of two or more people, we urge you to establish plans and guidelines to keep our most vulnerable participants safer from the possibility of COVID transmission. We recommend that congregations:

  • Follow the UUA’s guidance on singing.
  • Encourage people to bring their own food rather than share or distribute food.
  • Offer bathrooms that are well-ventilated, with marks on the hallway floor for socially-distanced waiting, and a plan for reduced occupancy.
  • Continue a culture of masking for large events. For small events, masking asks should be navigated with covenantal consent.
  • Provide inclusive and accessible spaces for sitting (lawns are often not accessible to wheelchair- and walker-users.)
  • Find creative methods for including people who are hard of hearing and/or visually-impaired, especially given the obstacles of distance and masks. Can your sound system work outdoors? If you are live streaming your event, you could offer the ability for in-person participants to use tablets and smartphones to access sound and visuals.
  • Be attentive to the safety of the building (if entrances are open yet no one is inside.)
  • Provide clear guidelines for participants, sent ahead of time: what will "the rules" be for safer participation?
  • Consider the needs of families with children so that they are able to participate.
  • Be considerate of neighbors with efforts to minimize noise pollution.
  • Update your existing safety and security plans for the different risks involved in an outdoor gathering.

Please read our full COVID-19 recommendations and questions for consideration on the page UUA Guidance for Gathering In-Person When COVID-19 Subsides.

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