Updated guidance for campus events and departmental holiday social gatherings

[This post was updated on Dec. 8, 2021, to reflect changes (in red text) to our guidance concerning food at indoor departmental events and gatherings.]

COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force 

Dear Bruin Community:

With the fall quarter winding down and possible UCLA departmental holiday social events being planned, it is important that we remain aware of the health risks associated with such activities.

Virtual events are still highly encouraged, especially as new strains of COVID-19 emerge, including the newly identified omicron variant, and new cases of the virus remain high.

For those who are attending or planning indoor or outdoor organized events, please refer to the updated UCLA Protocol for Organized Events (PDF). This guidance has been updated and extended until further notice and will be periodically adjusted based on changing public health conditions. For workers in UCLA Health hospitals and clinics please follow guidance issued by UCLA Health. 

Unchanged protocols:

  • Food remains prohibited at indoor departmental meetings and seminars held in departmental spaces.
  • Indoor dining is still permitted at:
    • Formal campus restaurant establishments and residential dining halls
    • Formal catering venues managed by UCLA Housing & Hospitality, the Luskin Conference Center and ASUCLA, provided that capacities are reduced to 50–75% occupancy
    • In all cases, outdoor dining is preferred and should be considered first
    • In all cases, vaccination status or proof of negative test must be verified

New protocols:

  • Food is permitted at departmental events and gatherings, such as holiday parties, under the following conditions:
    • All attendees should congregate outdoors, unless that is not possible
    • Unvaccinated attendees must maintain six feet of distance between themselves and others when eating or drinking
    • Indoor masking should be adhered to at all times when not actively eating or drinking, regardless of vaccination status
    • Attendees must be cleared to be on site through the UCLA COVID-19 Symptom Monitoring System
    • Disinfecting/sanitizing wipes must be available for individual use
    • Hand-hygiene resources must be provided and used by attendees coming into the area to collect food, as well as by servers
    • Food should not be shared amongst attendees
    • Attendee lists should be maintained for contact tracing
  • When an outdoor event or gathering is not possible, such as in the case of inclement weather, the following protocols also apply:
    • Communal areas should be clear of any furniture that is not being used to reduce congestion (i.e. excess chairs and tables)
    • Pre-packaged, store-bought meals/drinks and grab-and-go food are highly preferable. Self-service food and buffet-style service present higher risks and are highly discouraged — but they are permitted from university food-service providers or university-contracted providers who are contractually required to comply with the university’s COVID-19 mitigation measures for food service
    • Once meals have been collected, attendees should leave the communal area and enter a separate eating area, unless in a large room that offers adequate space to reduce congestion
    • Occupancy must be limited to 50–75% with alternate seating between participants, whichever is smaller
    • Gatherings must be optional when food is involved indoors, and alternative modes of participation, such as Zoom, should be offered when feasible
    • Organizers should consider holding their event at a formal restaurant establishment or catering venue that follows LACDPH Best Practices Guidance for Food and Beverage Services and LACDPH Guidance for Institutes of Higher Education
    • See LACDPH Holiday Events Guidance for Businesses for further details 

Without question, there is much to celebrate this year; however, we must all remember that this pandemic is still active. Our health and safety, as well as that of our colleagues, friends, family, neighbors and community members, should remain top of mind as we end the year and look ahead to 2022. This begins with making responsible choices and caring for those around us.

Wishing you a wonderful start to the holiday season. Thank you for your continued cooperation.


Michael J. Beck
Administrative Vice Chancellor
Co-chair, COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force

Megan McEvoy
Professor, Institute for Society and Genetics,
     Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics
Co-chair, COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force

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