Planning guidelines

General planning guidelines

At this time, limited one-time, episodic in-person meetings, events, or ceremonies (faculty and staff only) with an approved safety plan and fewer than 20 participants are allowed with the following restrictions:

  • Only a limited number of SFU spaces/buildings can be used (to request your events, contact Meeting, Event and Conference Services (MECS))
  • MECS will be available to provide support for these limited internal in-person gatherings at SFU
  • IT support may be limited at the university
  • A full safety plan will need to be prepared by the event organizer/host. MECS and Ceremonies and Events will have guidelines and a risk mitigation checklist for the event organizer to follow. 

If the in-person meeting, event, or ceremony is off campus, the gathering must also be less then 20 participants and a safety plan based on the MECS and Ceremonies and Events safety guidelines and risk mitigation checklist will need to be prepared by the event organizer/host. 

NOTE: If a second wave of COVID-19 occurs, SFU may move to a higher rating and thus there is a possibility that the university would revert back to no in-person gatherings of any kind.

Prior to your event

Consider moving your event online:

  • Turn your event into a livestream, webinar or other virtual event format
  • Recommended platforms:
    • Zoom
    • Facebook or Youtube Live
    • Bluejeans
  • When choosing a platform consider audience participation and accessibility. If using a platform not listed above, please contact IT Services to assess privacy and technology considerations. 
  • If using BlueJeans or Zoom, please contact IT Services via for assistance with this technology. Please note that all requests to IT Services for support will be prioritized to support critical university functions as determined by the University COVID-19 response teams.
  • Please visit our Events Toolkit for more resources on planning virtual events.


If you need to hold a small in-person event, please use the follow guidelines:

Note: [July 10, 2020] In-person event guidelines will be updated soon. Please check back to see the updated policies and risk mitigation checklist.
  • Ensure your participants are registered and easy to contact after the event if they need to be reached for public health notification.
  • Provide clear communication to participants on how to protect themselves and others during the event to reduce virus transmission:
    • Require that unwell people or those with high-risk medical conditions (heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease) not attend gatherings and ensure that event organizers have arrangements in place to safely isolate and transport people who become ill on-site
    • When sneezing or coughing, cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue or the crease of your elbow and then wash your hands with soap or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
    • Increase interpersonal distance (ideally separation of at least 2 metres, not shaking hands, as advised by Health Canada)
    • Discourage attendees from sharing food or drinks
  • Support frequent hand hygiene by providing hand sanitizer dispensers in prominent locations
  • Provide boxes of tissues in prominent locations (on meeting tables/desks)
  • Replace self-serve buffet with packaged refreshments, bagged lunches or individually served dishes
  • Plan for what happens if a participant becomes unwell with COVID-19 symptoms during your event:
    • Isolate the individual
    • Call SFU Security at 778.782.7991
    • Call 811

Planning a future event

  • Event planners who have events with longer planning timelines will need to make special considerations as the COVID-19 situation evolves.
  • At this time, event planners should continue to plan events online, unless it is a limited one-time, episodic in-person meetings, events, or ceremonies (faculty and staff only) with approved safety plan and fewer than 20 participants and the above restrictions are taken into consideration.
  • Plan for possible cancellation, postponement or an alternative online format. 
  • Confirm with venue and caterers that event cancellation is possible due to extenuating circumstances.*
    *SFU’s Meeting, Event and Conference Services (MECS) is currently waiving cancellation fees and closing large campus event spaces.
  • Ensure proper health and safety precautions are considered (e.g. hand sanitizer stations, no buffets or self-serve food stations).


Cancelling or postponing an event 

Event Cancellation checklist

  • Notify the venue, caterers and other internal/external service providers*
    *SFU Meeting, Event and Conference Services (MECS) is currently waiving cancellation fees
  • Notify all invitees as well as registrants (Sample Notice of Cancellation Email)
  • Notify guest speakers, emcees, Indigenous Elders and all other participants
  • Mark your event as "cancelled" in the SFU Events calendar via Livewhale (How-to)
  • Consider placing a sign at the venue in case guests show up day-of

COVID-19 and the Force Majeure clause

  • When considering event cancellations, event planners should check the contracts they have with venues, contractors and artists to see if it contains a force majeure clause or provision. A force majeure event refers to the occurrence of an event which is outside the reasonable control of a party and which prevents that party from performing its obligations under a contract. COVID-19, as a global pandemic, meets the definition of force majeure. It should therefore, be possible to release yourself from the terms of the contract in this situation. Each contract may have a slightly different definition of force majeure however, so it is good to review your contract closely, and then contact your venue or vendor to discuss further.


  • If advised after the event that someone has fallen ill, the organizer should coordinate a response with University Communications. 
  • If notified of possible COVID-19 exposure at one of your events, please advise your supervisor immediately.
  • Students, faculty, or staff who have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 by laboratory testing should self-isolate for 14 days after their last encounter. Individuals should monitor themselves daily for symptoms (fever, cough, muscle aches, difficulty breathing).
  • More information on self-isolation from the BC Centre for Disease Control.


This page will be reviewed and updated regularly. Last updated on Fri, 10 Jul 2020 10:00 AM