Guidance for indoor events

Updated May 2, 2021.

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This guidance is for receptions, events, concerts, non-critical auctions, theaters, trade shows, and other indoor venues not covered in other guidance documents where these guidelines and adherence to physical distance can be maintained.

Events that can fully follow the restaurant guidelines for the entire event may operate as a restaurant and follow those guidelines and capacity restrictions. This means that parties are seated, there are no shared activities, and any performers are at least 12 feet from patrons if wearing masks (25 feet if unmasked). Please see the restaurant guidance for more details.

IF THERE IS A CONFIRMED CASE OF COVID-19 IN THE COMMUNITY

Venue

  • When more than 100 people are gathered in a room in a public indoor space, the venue may operate at 100% capacity not to exceed 500 people, with 6 feet of distancing required between parties of unvaccinated people or people whose vaccination status is unknown. Existing approved variances remain in effect, including 5 Star Program approvals granted by a county.  Venues may apply to their local public health agency for a variance to exceed 500 people, to be finally approved by CDPHE. These requirements do not apply to licensed retail food establishments.
    • Some counties may have stricter capacity limits at the local level. Consult your local public health agency for more information about local regulations.
  • All indoor activities should follow either seated or unseated guidance. If it isn’t clear which guidance is more applicable, use unseated guidance. A venue should follow the guidance that most closely fits. This means that the same physical space may follow different guidance for different uses or events.
Seated indoor events
  • An event is considered “seated” if the attendees have minimal movement, such as purchasing concessions or using the restroom facilities.
  • Seated activities should ensure 6 feet of distance between parties from different households.
Unseated indoor events
  • At a minimum, everyone at an unseated event should be able to maintain 6 feet of distancing from all members of other households. Venues may calculate capacity using the Social Distancing Space Calculator.
  • Unseated activities increase the possibility of interaction among multiple people as they move around the space. The distancing calculator builds in additional distancing requirements to account for this movement.
All indoor events
  • Collect contact information of guests or attendees through tactics like taking reservations, requiring RSVPs, or having sign-in sheets, and times of arrival and departure to help with potential exposure notification whenever possible.
  • Provide generous and flexible cancellation policies so that if guests start experiencing symptoms, they can cancel.
  • Ensure 6 feet or more distancing between all employees, customers, contractors and visitors.
  • Create a queue at entrances that ensures a minimum of 6 feet of physical distancing between individuals and pace entry to prevent congestion.
  • Operate on a one-in-one-out basis when at capacity.
  • Give reminders to observe 6 feet physical distancing before, during, and after events.
  • Post signage with easy to interpret graphics in commonly used languages reminding everyone to maintain 6 feet of distance, wear masks, wash hands, etc.
  • Establish single-direction traffic flow in and out of venue and seating areas. Consider separate entrances and exits.
  • If the event is catered, do not allow for self-service stations or buffets.
  • Enhance cleaning and disinfection of common touch points (doors, stairwell handles, light switch, elevator switch, etc.). (CDC cleaning guidance)
  • Ensure ventilation at the venue is in line with or exceeds OSHA guidance.
  • Install touchless hand sanitizing stations at entrances and in high-traffic areas.
  • Deploy plexiglass barriers where appropriate.
  • Limit, wherever possible, the sharing of tools, equipment, or other shared resources (not involved in games or activities).
  • Booths or vendors at events should:
    • Allow spacing for vendor load-in and loadout such that vendors and staff can maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from each other as much as possible.
    • Add a minimum of 6 feet in between booths.
    • Create a single line of booths instead of double rows. If this is not possible, create at least a 16 feet thoroughfare between the two sides allowing for a single file, one-way path down the middle.  
    • Require vendors to have market booth layouts that promote social distancing. Provide them with the space to do this. 
    • Create one-way traffic flow through the booths to prevent crowding or mingling.
    • Use ropes, cones or tape to define the entrance, exit and flow.

Vendors/Employees

  • Provide guidance and encouragement on maintaining 6 feet of physical distancing.
  • In counties with one-week disease incidence rates in excess of 35 per 100,000, masks are required to be worn in public indoor spaces where 10 or more unvaccinated individuals or individuals of unknown vaccination status are present. Venues should err on the side of assuming that people entering their indoor site are unvaccinated. Individuals are permitted to remove their masks in public indoor spaces if 80% of the individuals in the space have shown proof of vaccination.
  • Train employees in proper use of protective equipment, and emphasize that they should refrain from face-touching.
  • Require frequent handwashing upon arrival, departure and throughout the day.
  • Implement symptom monitoring protocols (including workplace temperature monitoring and symptom screening questions) where possible (Additional Guidance) and encourage sick employees to use the CDPHE Symptom Support tool.
  • Employees who have been in close contact with an exposed or symptomatic person (within 6 feet for at least 10 minutes) should not report to work and should self-quarantine, unless they have been fully vaccinated.
  • Group employees into teams or shifts that stick together.
  • Encourage all employees not critical to in-person operations to continue working from home remotely.
  • Provide contactless payment methods.
  • Do not allow multiple people to handle objects, or disinfect the objects between each person.
  • Extend setup timelines to allow vendors more time to set up and not overlap.

Performers/competitors

The below information does not replace the recommendation for performers to wear a mask and should be followed in addition to proper mask-wearing.

  • Performances with vocal speech or singing, wind or brass instruments, or activities that cause heavy breathing should be 12 feet from patrons if the performer is wearing a mask.* If not wearing a mask, performers should be 25 feet from spectators. Performances with no forced exhalation as in the prior examples, like a piano, harp, or organ player, should be a minimum of 6 feet from patrons, but 12 feet is preferred.

  • Participants (e.g., players, performers, actors, competitors, entertainers, etc.) in events should have their symptoms checked, and participants who have been in close contact with an exposed or symptomatic person (within 6 feet for at least 10 minutes) should not participate and should self-quarantine, unless they have been fully vaccinated.

  • Adopt seating and spacing modifications to increase physical distance from a performer. 

  • Where necessary, install barriers to minimize travel of aerosolized particles from performers, or implement alternative placement of performers.

  • Maximize physical spacing between performers on-stage.

  • Performers should use a separate entrance/exit than patrons where possible.

  • Performers are not included in capacity limits so long as they do not join the spectator/patron areas at any time. If performers join the patron spaces, they must be included in the capacity limit numbers.

  • Disinfect high-touch areas and equipment such as: microphones, instruments, props, etc. between uses.

Hosts/attendees

  • Encourage attendees to stay home if sick or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. Consider screening attendees for fever, symptoms, or exposures before or at their arrival.

  • Encourage attendees who have been in close contact with a person suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 (within 6 feet for at least 10 minutes) to stay home and self-quarantine. 

  • Encourage frequent handwashing.

  • Attendees should refrain from mixing and mingling with others not in their household during events as much as possible.

  • Attendees should maintain at least 6 feet of physical distancing from others as much as possible.

  • Face coverings are required to be worn in all public indoor spaces unless it would inhibit the individual’s health, while they are eating or drinking, or if it is not age-appropriate.

  • Populations at higher risk for severe COVID-19 should consider additional protections or staying home during this time per CDPHE guidance.

  • Encourage remote participation whenever possible.

*Research and the CDC suggest that activities like singing may project respiratory droplets in greater quantity and over greater distance, increasing the risk of COVID-19 transmission, particularly with prolonged exposure.

Frequently asked questions

This guidance should be applied beyond traditional events if the business in question does not clearly fit into any other guidance category. For example, escape rooms do not clearly fit into any one business sector, so they should follow guidance for unseated indoor events. Other examples include arcades, wedding receptions, large-scale trade shows, and museums.

Staff are required to ensure the successful implementation of these guidelines and the safety of participants. Therefore, staff do not contribute to the capacity limit. Performers, competitors, actors, entertainers, or players are not included in capacity limits as  long as they do not join the spectator/patron areas at any time, which means keeping at least 12 feet of distance from spectators if wearing a mask (25 feet if unmasked). If performers join the patron spaces, they must be included in the capacity limit numbers.

Indoor market managers may use this guidance to set up their markets and have different designated areas of activity. Individuals retailers within indoor markets and malls should follow retail guidance.

Yes, arcade games are permitted at both indoor and outdoor events when following the best practices described in the indoor and outdoor events guidance. 

  • Indoor arcades themselves may follow the same capacity restrictions as indoor unseated events.

  • Arcades with food service should follow restaurant guidance for designated dining areas. 

    • Dining areas and activities should be separated from gaming areas as much as possible. 

  • Disinfect high-touch areas and equipment such as: gaming machines and equipment, microphones, instruments, props, etc. between uses.

  • Limit gaming group size to no more than 4 people and maintain at least 6 feet distancing between groups.

  • Lower or turn off volume on games to reduce the need to speak loudly as forced exhalation increases the risk of transmission

Casinos may operate according indoor events guidance.