Coronavirus Action Center & Resources

Like you, SIIA continues to monitor closely the dynamic situation surrounding the global outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

This action center is designed to provide the latest updates on our events and the status of the outbreak. We also have provided links to additional resources to help you prepare and respond. We’re also identifying best practices and tips to address broader business challenges, including protecting your employee’s health and preventing the spread of the virus. At this time, there are no restrictions on travel anywhere within the United States.

With the coronavirus situation evolving rapidly, we urge our members to consult the latest travel guidance and check back here regularly for updates.

Update on In-person SIIA Events

The health and safety of our members and event attendees is our highest priority. With a complex calendar of upcoming events around the world, we are actively working  with municipal, state, and federal government officials and coordinating with our local partners exploring how we can provide a productive and safe platform to allow our members to learn, share knowledge, and network. Decisions about upcoming events are being made in coordination with the best intelligence available. We appreciate your patience as we make those decisions. Please stay tuned for updates to the event schedule. 

for a listing of webinars and other virtual events

Steps to Take Now

  • Monitor local, national and international public health agencies for updates on the outbreak, advice on precautionary and reactionary protocols, travel guidance, and symptoms to track.
  • Review and update your crisis communications plan. PCMA and ASAE have helpful templates.
  • Communicate regularly and responsibly. Your attendees, partners, employees, and other key audiences need to hear from you. Use your voice to help prevent unnecessary panic and provide accurate information.
  • Office cleanliness. Implement and reinforce best practices to limit the spread of any viruses.
  • Visitor policy. The law firm Mayer Brown lists tips about screening visitors along with additional advice on maintaining a safe workplace.
  • HR Policies. Be fully aware of your leave policies and how they align with state and federal laws. Ensure you have policies or a plan to facilitate remote working. Shutdown plan: Do you have a business continuity plan? Develop a plan that addresses both short-term and long-term possibilities.
  • Technology. Ensure you have the rights tools and technologies in place to allow for remote working and continued communication.

The World Health Organization has created a dashboard with regular        updates on the spread of the disease.

Your Events

On March 15, 2020 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated its guidance for large events and mass gatherings. In summary, the agency recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States. More details here.

SIIA hosted a webinar, “Coronavirus and Your Events: How to Make Decisions that Protect Your Business and the Safety of Your Staff,” on March 19, 2020. The webinar features industry experts sharing their strategies on how to minimize the negative effect of the current public health crisis on your events business while still keeping the safety of your stakeholders paramount. Members may access a recording.

What steps should I be taking as an events producer?

  • Pull out that crisis communications plan and begin reviewing or implementing. Communication is clear before, during, and after your event – think of the impact news stories and travel warnings have on your attendees. Keep them apprised and reassured to the best of your ability. Be informative but not alarmist.
  • Take steps to protect the health of your attendees and demonstrate you are aware of their concerns. Remind your attendees of basic healthy travel tips (e.g., wash hands thoroughly and regularly). Provide hand sanitizer or hand sanitizing stations.
  • Consult with local public health officials. Ensure you have a plan in-place should an outbreak occur at your event.
  • Talk with your attorney and insurance carrier about the long-term impact of the decisions you make. The safety of your guests, employees, and partners is paramount but you should have a firm understanding of the financial repercussions of canceling or rescheduling.

The CDC has issued interim guidance for mass gatherings and large community events.

Adweek is tracking cancellations across the U.S. 

What do I look for in my event contracts to protect my interests in case we need to cancel?

Talk with your attorney — it is uncertain whether warnings from the CDC and other government health agencies fall under force majeure and/or impossibility clauses. A force majeure clause allows people to get out of contracts when events occur that are reasonably unforeseeable and beyond their control. The scope of such clauses varies by jurisdiction—so for example, New York requires you to name every possible contingency, and other contracts do not.  And certainly, “people don’t feel like travelling because they’re scared” is a difficult argument to make due to the idea that you’re not supposed to be able to get out of deals just because things got more expensive. There’s an enormous policy interest in contractual certainty.

With that said, global pandemics are exactly the kind of thing that would trigger these kinds of clauses.  In a lot of cases, possession is going to be 9/10ths of the law, and the odds of winning have to be determined contract to contract.  The strongest arguments for cancellation will involve things like government-imposed travel bans, whereas company-wide travel restrictions will be on less firm footing.

This post provides some useful information as well.

Tools & Resources

Health Authorities and Outbreak Updates

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: The CDC provides an excellent resource including basic information about the virus, general updates, and other tips and information for travelers, businesses and the general public. Twitter: @CDCgov
  • U.S State Department: Provides travel tips, updated travel advisories, and emergency contact information for U.S. citizens in China. Twitter: @CDCgov
  • World Health Organization: The World Health Organization provides a resource outlining key planning considerations for organizers of mass gatherings in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The guide includes specific action plans, recommendations for communicating with key audiences including local health and emergency authorities, and tips for reducing event-related transmission. Twitter: @WHO

Resources, Tips, and Toolkits

  • ASAE: The American Society of Association Executives includes links to relevant news coverage, and downloadable slides from a recent webcast featuring a panel of association leaders discussing the impact of the virus on associations, key steps to help mitigate losses with hotel and vendor contracts, and other key issues.
  • Meetings Mean Business Coalition: MMB has developed a toolkit of preparedness and response resources including talking points, media engagement templates, and “fast facts” graphics.
  • U.S. Travel Association: This online resource includes talking points for use with the media, tips on communicating healthy travel practices, and shareable infographics and a gif.
  • Events Industry Council: preparedness page
  • CDC: The agency has issued interim guidance for mass gatherings and large community events.
  • Remote Work: Quick start guide to maintain a collaborative workplace
  • ADP – The payroll and HR services provider has an excellent toolkit for small businesses that includes information on the recently passed Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Finding Relief Under the Stimulus Bill (CARES Act) 

The Time to Apply for Aid is Now! 

And Don’t Forget you Might be Eligible for Tax Deferral

Even if you are not sure what you might be eligible for, contact your existing commercial lender for options; the Small Business Administration (SBA) if you are a Small or Medium Sized Enterprise (SME), community banks, and the IRS.

U.S. Senate Passes New Stimulus Bill 

The Senate passed the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) on March 25 with a bipartisan 96-0 vote.  The bill includes $350 billion for small businesses and $500 billion for larger companies in loans, loan guarantees and other investments. The House passed the bill on Friday, March 27. President Trump signed the bill into law Friday night. 

SIIA Calling for Relief Benefiting Members

And Providing Information for Members to get that Aid

SIIA continues to actively advocate on behalf of our members. Some recent examples include this March 23 letter to the Treasury Secretary and this March 23 letter to Congress requesting inclusion of the events sector in the stimulus bill.  SIIA also sent this March 25 letter to the Congress asking for funds to be allocated for education to fund distance learning programs and related infrastructure. We will continue to bring our member concerns to policymakers and provide resources to our members as they look to relief in this unprecedented time.    

Tell us About Your Challenges in Receiving Assistance

The topline 2 trillion assistance number is impressive – and additional stimulus is likely down the road – but the reality is that getting that money out will take time. Contact Carl Schonander, or Sara Kloek for education related questions, and tell us about your practical challenges in getting assistance. We will anonymize anecdotes and make sure they get to the right people. Time is of the essence now. The money needs to flow quickly.  

SIIA hosted a webinar "Navigating the CARES Act - How to Use the Coronavirus Stimulus Package to Benefit Your Business" on Thursday, April 9. Access the Recording and Handouts.

White House Updates of Interest to Business 

SIIA receives information regularly from the White House on resources available to address the coronavirus outbreak, which we are pleased to share with members. See below for an SIIA curated list of resources available to business, especially small and medium sized enterprises. 

Assistance for American Workers and Families

Assistance for Small Businesses

The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses. Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards.