How to Host Safe Outdoor Events on Meetup

The communication, planning, and safety precautions you need to host a safe outdoor event.

outdoor event

After a year of limited socializing, many Meetup organizers are beginning to reconvene their groups by hosting in-person events again. One of the best ways to host a safe, comfortable event is by taking your meeting outdoors.

The threat of COVID-19 transmission varies from region to region around the world. If you’re organizing in an area with limited vaccine availability, outdoor events are a great go-to for gathering. According to a Japanese study of 100 COVID-19 cases, the odds of catching coronavirus are almost 20 times higher indoors than outdoors. In parts of the world where in-person events still pose a serious risk of transmission, organizers are seizing the opportunity to bring their community together in a low-risk safe environment by hosting outdoor events. If you’re interested in some ideas for fun outdoor activities, check out this list of ways to connect with nature.

Since we introduced online events on Meetup for the first time in March 2020, organizers have hosted more than 2 million online Meetup events helping to fight loneliness in their communities and keep connected. Today, more groups are beginning to host some of their events outdoors with thoughtful precautions. In addition to the sports and outdoors groups who normally meet outside, there are also traditionally “indoor” groups bringing their events outside to stay connected. With more restaurants, community centers, and coffee shops offering outdoor seating, it’s easier than ever to find a suitable place to meet outside. 

Learn more about hosting your next outdoor event on Meetup. Not an organizer? Learn how to start a group.

Here are some of the ways you can host a safe outdoor event for your community whether you normally host outside or are hosting outdoors for the first time.

Guide to hosting outdoor events

Learn more about Personal and Social Activities from the CDC. Follow local requirements and guidelines issued by your government authorities and public health officials.

Communicate with members ahead of your event

Start a discussion about meeting safely outdoors to gauge the comfort level of your members. Share an overview of the precautions you plan to take and give members information on how they can participate in keeping the event safe and fun.

Agree on some general guidelines you will follow. Here are some good topics to align on.

  • Encourage unvaccinated attendees to wear masks and keep a safe distance from others
  • Have a way for event attendees to indicate their preferences when it comes to personal contact 
  • Bring hand sanitizer and identify handwashing stations
  • Do not attend events when feeling ill 
  • Have attendees check their temperature before departing for the event
  • Share your safety requirements with your group in advance of the event. For example, if you require that attendees prove that they’ve been vaccinated, let your members know. 

Plan the logistics

Event logistics are crucial to any event and are especially important when planning a safe outdoor event. Planning ahead will help keep members informed and better equipped to stay safe during the event. Having a co-organizer will help your safe outdoor event run smoothly.

Here are some important topics to consider when hosting an outdoor event.

  • Venue: The most important part of hosting outdoors is finding the right space. You’ll need something that’s convenient for your members to travel to, has enough space for members to distance themselves, and has options for different weather conditions. We recommend scoping out a venue in advance, reserving a covered space if possible, and showing up to the venue early on the day of the event. Public parks are a reliable option.
  • Time of day: When you’re working with sunlight it’s important to account for more time than you think you’ll need. Try planning your events earlier in the day if possible in case your event starts or ends late.
  • Event length: Limiting the amount of time you spend together can help reduce the chances of spreading the virus. Plan your events to be on the shorter side as a general rule.
  • Share what members should bring: Limit all materials shared by members and be clear about what members will need the day of the event. It might be a chair to sit on, a copy of a book, a pen to sign in, or a piece of sports equipment. Communication about what members are expected to bring will helps reduce the number of shared items.
  • How you’ll find each other: If you don’t have an exact address for the meeting spot on your event page, leave a detailed plan of how members can find the event. We recommend wearing a colored shirt or using a sign to help members find you.
  • Event setup: Make it clear how far apart members should sit or stand. If members are bringing their own chairs, help recommend the appropriate distance they should be from other attendees’ seats.

Have a backup plan

We’ve all learned the value of flexibility and compassion in the past year. Set a generous cancellation policy for members canceling due to illness or exposure 

  • Plan a backup online event: Plan for a backup online event if the outdoor event needs to be rescheduled because of bad weather or cancellations. 
  • Have an alternate meeting spot: If the outdoor space is crowded on the day of the event, plan an alternate location that you share with members. We also recommend showing up at the venue early.
  • Make a communication plan: Designate a point-of-contact for members to check in with about alternate locations, cancellations, and other questions. You can post on the Meetup app or start a texting group for the event.

These recommendations are based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Read more of our in-person event suggestions.

Last modified on September 10, 2021