New recommendations for event organizers in light of COVID-19

UPDATE as of July 2020: As per the latest guidelines from the Community team, all WordPress events (including WordCamps and MeetupsMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook.) will be online-only till the end of 2020. We will re-evaluate these guidelines in Q1 2021.

I’m sure that WordPress community organizers all over the world are keeping a watchful eye on the news related to COVID-19. Many organizers have received questions and recommendations from their communities about whether to continue meeting in person, in the absence of direct instructions from the public health authorities in their towns or countries. 

We are a team of people dedicated to bringing people together, and our community events are a labor (much labor!) of love. WordPress community organizers have carved out time from their busy schedules, sacrificed time with family/friends or that would have been dedicated to other causes, and taken on very challenging work (we make it look easy, but it’s not!) in order to plan community events. Naturally, we approach the topic of postponing or cancelling our events with deep reluctance and sadness. 

That said, one of our fundamental priorities must be to preserve the health and well-being of our attendees and communities. Making decisions that support the effort to “flatten the curve” — slowing the rate of infection so that health care systems are not overwhelmed — is both responsible and prudent. 

In cities or countries where the public health officials have restricted public gatherings, I trust that organizers will follow the advice of authorities. For organizers with events planned in cities or states that have not yet made public health recommendations, the decision is much more difficult. We have not trained organizers to assess risks like these, because our program has never had to adapt to a global epidemic of this scale. To support organizers in this difficult decision, here is the recommendation:

If you are planning an event scheduled between now and December 31, 2020, we strongly recommend that you postpone the event until 2021 or later, and/or adapt to an online event.

Please review this handbook page for recommendations on postponement vs cancellation of a WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more., and procedures for both. This recommendation stands for both meetupMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook. events and WordCamps.

If your community has not yet seen evidence of community transmission of COVID-19, please take extra precautions with attendee health:

  • Discuss event details with local health officials and prepare to implement an emergency contingency plan based on their specific guidance.
  • Share and provide COVID-19 updates on your WordCamp site, and promote preventive health messages to your attendees and volunteers, such as:
    • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
    • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve, then put the tissue a the garbage bin.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily.
    • Recommend that attendees minimize close contact (e.g., recommending no handshaking or hugging)
  • Encourage participants who are experiencing any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 to refrain from attending the conference. 
  • Make sure that every attendee has registered via purchasing the ticket or marking their attendance in so that if someone gets sick, it will be easier for public health authorities to identify those at risk of infection.
  • Create refund policies or remote participation capability (such as arranging to live stream the event, if possible) that permit participants the flexibility to stay home when they are sick, need to care for sick household members, or are at high risk for complications from COVID-19.

It’s possible we will extend this recommendation past June, depending on what happens in April and May. Please expect updates on a monthly basis, if not more frequently.  Update as of July 2020: We have extended the recommendation to hold online-only events for all of 2020, and we will re-evaluate these guidelines in Q1 2021.

Support and training for online event planning is in the works. Next week I hope we can publish a handbook page with advice for temporarily adapting monthly meetup events so they can be held online, and the infrastructure and documentation to support organizers interested in holding WordCamps online are targeted for publication by the end of March.

I recognize that this is a terribly difficult time for many, and community deputiesProgram Supporter Community Program Supporters (formerly Deputies) are a team of people worldwide who review WordCamp and Meetup applications, interview lead organizers, and keep things moving at WordCamp Central. Find more about program supporters in our Program Supporter Handbook. are available to help. Please email with any questions or concerns, or share your concerns in a comment on this post.