All public and private events with 50 or more people should be canceled for the next eight weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention recommended on March 15.

The recommendation came the same day that the city of Atlanta announced a ban on public gatherings of 250 or more people. “This recommendation is not intended to supersede the advice of local public health officials,” the CDC said.

An illustration created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that depicts a coronavirus. (Special)

The CDC also recommended that events of any size should be held virtually if possible. Otherwise, the should happen in-person only if precautions can be taken that include not involving older adults and those with chronic medical conditions; having hand-cleanliness practices; and keeping people at least 6 feet apart.

The CDC said examples of “large events and mass gatherings’ of 50 or more people include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events and weddings, among many other possibilities. The concern is that travelers can bring the coronavirus into the event and spread it to a new community.

The CDC said the recommendation to cancel mass gatherings does not apply to “the day-to-day operation” of schools, institutes of higher learning or businesses. All local school districts have already closed and colleges and universities shifted to remote courses for at least two weeks, and many businesses have some employees teleworking. Local city governments have shut down most public spaces and many cultural centers have closed as well.

For the latest information about the new coronavirus, see the CDC website at

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.