A large public gathering refers to an assembly or grouping of many people in one place. Such gatherings can include church services, sporting events, concerts, social and cultural celebrations, weddings, conferences, and other similar activities attended by relatively large groups of people. This interim guidance does not attempt to define such events in terms of numbers of people in attendance; rather, the focus is on community situations in which crowding is likely to occur. In addition, these recommendations do not distinguish between public gatherings held indoors and those held outdoors, because differences in novel influenza A (H1N1) virus transmission patterns in these two settings are not known.
In crowded settings, social distancing (that is, measures that increase the physical space between people and reduce their frequency of close contact) is difficult to maintain. Moreover, at public gathering events that are celebratory in nature (such as weddings, graduation ceremonies), participants frequently have social personal contact (like handshaking and hugging). As a result, there may be increased risk for spread of novel influenza A (H1N1) virus among attendees of such events and subsequent spread of illness in the community or in communities to where attendees return. The recommendations below are intended to reduce the spread of influenza infection in communities.
Decisions regarding large public gatherings in the context of this novel influenza A (H1N1) outbreak should be made based on local influenza activity and other local considerations. However, given the current information on disease severity and spread, it is recommended that:
Large public gatherings offer a good opportunity to deliver key educational messages about measures attendees can take to help reduce the spread of novel influenza A (H1N1) infection. Event organizers should consider communicating to attendees about the need to stay home if ill and to use good hygiene practices while at the event. Such information may be communicated through a variety of means such as letters, newspaper notices, public service announcements, web site postings, and text messages.