by Mark Dorsey, CSI CEO
Dear CSI Chapter or Region Leader,
The proliferation of COVID-19 is creating unprecedented stressors on daily life, the economy, and the health care system.
These stressors extend to the business of meetings. Within the last 24 hours, some of your colleagues have reached out to CSI to ask whether or not to move forward with local chapter and region meetings that may be scheduled.
While CSI wants all of its members to be safe, the circumstances of this health challenge are different in each town, city, and state. You will need to do what is best for you and your attendees locally, and in the context of your meeting agreements.
Here are a few thoughts we can share:
- Consider creative alternatives. If you are concerned about cancelling, consider discussing the situation with local venues. You may be able to avoid cancelling by rescheduling your program to a later date.
- Understand your agreements and your insurance. You may not be able to cancel your obligations simply because of fear, attrition or company travel restrictions, and your insurance may not cover you if you cancel your event for those reasons. You may be able to cancel or be covered if a public health or governmental body prohibits gatherings like your event.
- Keep up with the resources we are posting on CSIreources.org as well as on public health sites like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These resources provide current information about travel restrictions, conduct at an event, and how to slow spread of the virus.
- Consider virtual delivery of content as a means of engaging attendees. You might even get some new folks.
- Compassionately tell potential attendees and workers who feel ill or unsafe not to attend.
If you are concerned about cancelling a particular agreement or agreements, consider consulting qualified local legal counsel. If your chapter or region does not have access to this resource, please let us refer you to Paul Jorgensen of the Jorgensen Law Firm (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Maame Nyamekye of Whiteford, Taylor and Preston (MNyamekye@wtplaw.com). Both firms are familiar with CSI, and can offer advice.
We recommend this not to “lawyer up” in your discussions with a venue, but to help you to work through the options available in your contracts and to address messaging and risk related to holding your event.
Nationally we, like you, are in a similar situation as we evaluate meetings going forward. We will pass on what we learn as we can. Please know that we are in solidarity with you as we try to navigate this unprecedented situation.