Braver Angels reviewed our COVID-19 policy for in-person meetings on May 10, 2021. The guidance below is appropriate for the current state of the nation. In several states, in-person meetings may be held consistent with such guidelines. While the science continues to improve and the pandemic takes different turns, the following is true. The virus remains a serious health threat. The risk is best managed by following recommendations from public health officials. Working together we can return to a more normal life sooner.
This policy was drafted by a team of ten Braver Angels leaders, equally balanced between reds and blues. The draft was then revised after consultation with 68 BA local leaders, who were about equally balanced between Reds and Blues, plus Others.
Principles Behind the Policy
- We have a national Braver Angels policy with local decision-making.
- We expect that people will conform to the policies of meeting venues and local public authorities.
- When the decision is complex, err on the side of safety for participants, because we can hold online events and because no one’s livelihood depends on BA events happening.
- Each participant recognizes (and this document reflects) that there is always some risk associated with attending an in-person event during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Each participant bears full responsibility for his or her personal decision to attend an in-person Braver Angels event during the pandemic.
- When local public authorities permit gatherings of more than ten people, BA in-person activities may occur, if local BA event leaders agree.
- All leaders of a meeting should be in agreement about meeting in person, including any, Red, Blue, and Other leaders. If leaders disagree, they should wait until they have agreement and consider hosting online events instead.
- Option for Alliance leaders: Survey Alliance members and ask if they are comfortable with the idea of an in-person meeting (even if the person might not be able or inclined to attend for whatever reason). If most reds and blues—for instance, 75 percent of reds and 75 percent of blues—were comfortable with the idea of meeting in person, an in-person meeting could occur. Again, surveying participants is just an option for Alliance leaders to consider.
- Whenever possible, enable those unable to participate in person to join via Zoom. (Note: this option is not feasible for the Red/Blue workshops.)
- Emphasize events that are no more than three hours in length instead of daylong workshops, in order to minimize risk. (Recall that daylong Red/Blue workshops may be divided into two separate 3-hour installments.)
- Follow any safety procedures of the meeting venue.
- Have hand sanitizer available for all participants.
- Face masks: if there is no local public policy or meeting venue policy requiring the wearing of masks, red and blue leaders—or event leaders when red and blue leaders are not necessary—should agree in advance about how to handle: whether face masks are required, encouraged but not required, or left up to the discretion of each person. Whatever the case, it is very important that the leaders be transparent to potential participants before the event (including in the invitation) about the face mask policy.
- It’s up to the discretion of the event leaders about whether to practice social distancing during the event. If social distancing will be practiced, communicate to prospective participants about the social distancing expectations.
- Invitations should include explicit statements that persons experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, as well as people who have been knowingly exposed to Covid-19 within the last two weeks, should not attend the event.
- People should bring their own snacks and drinks; organizers are discouraged from bringing food and drinks for everyone.
- The policy of the BA local leadership about in-person meetings, and policies for how to hold them, should be publicized to the local membership and be present on all invitations to events. Local leadership should strive for a clear and specific policy.
- Leaders should decide in advance about actions to take if participants do not cooperate with the policies described in the meeting invitation. (For instance, the participant would be refused entry.)
- Hold meetings outside if feasible (e.g. a person’s backyard).
- If meeting inside, open windows if feasible.