Legal Considerations for Post-Pandemic Event Planning
Did you miss CSAE’s free virtual session about the legal implications of post-pandemic event planning? Lawyers Benjamin Hecht (left) and Andrew Buck from Pitblado Law joined us on Aug. 18 to explore COVID-related legal issues surrounding event planning.
Since the legal landscape is fluid and evolving, Hecht and Buck recommended that associations establish a decision-making framework to apply to post-pandemic event planning. There presently is no black and white answer when it comes to in-person gatherings, they said. The very first priority is simply adhering to public health orders. After that, it’s about balancing the needs of the many versus the needs of the few.
Associations should be prepared to demonstrate they’ve considered three fundamental principles to balance these interests:
Is vaccination necessary for your event once the risk of COVID has been assessed? Consider, among other things, the location (indoors/outdoors), number of attendees, length, ability to social distance and the local case count.
2. Proportionality and effectiveness
Will insisting on vaccination be effective at achieving the objective, which is to reduce virus transmission? At this point, public health evidence points to yes. However, look for the best way to do this with minimal impairment, or within a range of acceptable alternatives. Think about whether the benefits of insisting on vaccination outweigh the infringement on individual rights.
Organizers have a duty to accommodate those who can’t or won’t get vaccinated, for reasons which are recognized by human rights laws as “protected grounds.” This may mean adjusting the rules to allow for everyone’s full participation, such as having a separate entrance/viewing area for unvaccinated people and/or allowing them to participate virtually.
As we wait for precedents to be established for COVID-related legal and privacy concerns, Hecht and Buck said the emphasis for event planners is on the duty to accommodate all participants while taking reasonable steps to address foreseeable risks. Their final advice: Develop your decision-making matrix using the above principles and apply it consistently to your event planning strategy.
Watch the informative session in its entirety here.
Read more informative content for association leaders on the CSAE Blog.