Division Title

​​Common Area Guidance

Meeting Spaces and Conference Rooms

NIH In-Person Meetings

DOHS has suspended meeting approvals effective May 15th. Forms and other requirements have been removed. We encourage you to consider the items below for hosting safer, in person gatherings. 

When planning meetings,  whether held in an NIH building, a leased building, or an off-site facility, including outdoor meetings, planners should consider the following safety measures. Outdoor meetings are lower risk, but not without risk, and are encouraged, especially for larger gatherings. 

  • Control in-person attendance. Know how many people will attend in person. This will allow you to select a proper room size for the attendance.
  • Virtual option offered: Remote participation options should be offered, and attendees should not be required to attend in-person unless necessary.
  • Assess the space you are meeting in. Check the size of your room. The square footage is very important, but not the only factor. Rooms with high ceilings are better than those with low or standard height ceilings. More importantly, make certain your room has good ventilation. If the room you are proposing does not have a supply air vent, it may not be adequate. If possible, place furniture in a way that reduces the chance of personnel sitting within 6 feet of one another.
  • Cleaning and Hand Hygiene: High touch surfaces and common areas should be cleaned at the beginning and end of each day. Disinfectant must be available for shared areas, and common items disinfected between uses. EPA approved disinfectants effective against coronavirus should be used. Hand sanitizer stations/bottles should be available, and their use encouraged throughout the event.
  • Keep meetings brief. Limit the time spent gathering to the shortest time needed to accomplish the meeting objectives.  Start and end the meeting on time. If the meeting business is concluded early, end the meeting and minimize socializing.
  • Symptom Screening and Positive Case Reporting: Attendees should perform daily self-assessments for COVID-19 symptoms and be informed how to report them and/or a positive test result in the meeting announcement or invite. Persons with symptoms, no matter how mild, must not attend in-person gatherings, no matter the size or community risk level. Symptoms should be reported, and attendee tested in accordance with CDC guidelinesOnly positive cases affecting NIH staff working in healthcare facilities and Tier 1 should be reported to OMS.
  • Food Service: Shared food and beverage services are not recommended. Individually packaged items are preferred. NOTE: All prohibitions on use of appropriated funds for provision of food remain unchanged.
  • Masks: A well-fitted face covering must be worn as outlined in the current version of the NIH COVID-19 Safety Plan.
  • Physical Distancing: At high workplace hospital admission levels all meetings must require attendees maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance.
  • Visitors. If you have visitors attending your meeting, they should be expected to meet the same standards as any NIH staff attending the meetings, including guidance on masking and density. Visitors should be notified of any meeting requirements that are established in the planning of the meeting.

  • Poorly Ventilated Areas. For small meeting locations with poor ventilation or ventilation that cannot be adjusted to maximize fresh air, consider use of portable HEPA-filtered air purifiers. Consult with DOHS and the facility personnel to determine of portable HEPA-filtered air purifiers are appropriate.