A view of the Secretariat Building, with Members States’ flags flying in the foreground, at United Nations headquarters in New York. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Advice for all meeting attendees:
Requirements for mitigation of COVID-19 exposure during meetings in the UNHQ complex

(Updated 18 September 2020)

All attendees at meetings held in the UN Headquarters complex are required to follow the mitigation measures outlined below. These measures are in accordance with current New York City and State requirements regarding public gatherings, and the Phase Two restrictions for activity in the United Nations Headquarters (UNHQ) complex as detailed in the Crisis Operations Group Reintegration Plan.

Note that whilst not required under the Organization’s privileges and immunities, New York State guidelines do not currently support larger indoor gatherings and these measures are in place to keep the health and safety risk of meetings as low as reasonably achievable.

Wherever possible, virtual meetings remain the preferred and recommended format.

Attendance and entry

Attendance in the meeting room is restricted to those with a role as representatives or support. Increasing numbers introduce complexity and increase the likelihood of interactions and exposure and complicate contact tracing should that be required.

Do not under any circumstances enter the complex if you are unwell. Any attendee who begins to feel unwell (non-emergency) should immediately leave the UN complex and seek medical care. The UN medical service clinic is not open for walk-in care.

As a condition of entry to the UN complex, every meeting attendee confirms (by swiping their United Nations issued ID card) that they:

  • Have completed quarantine if in the last 14 days they have arrived from a country or US State that is considered elevated risk; [wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel]  [https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory]
  • Have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days;
  • Have not had symptoms consistent with COVID-19 in the last 14 days; and
  • Have not had close contact with someone with COVID-19 or symptoms consistent with COVID-19 in the last 14 days.

Protective measures

The key protective measures are well established and evidence based – maintain distance from others, wear a face covering, and sanitize hands regularly.

Physical distancing:

  • All attendees are to maintain 6ft/2m distance as much as possible, particularly in queues.
  • Wherever practicable, waiting or queueing should be outdoors rather than indoors.
  • Elevators are restricted to 2 person maximum occupancy.
  • Physical contact for greetings such as handshakes, embracing and similar activity is not in recognition of the physical distancing requirements.
  • Attendees are requested to minimize activity until seated in the meeting room, and once seated to remain in their seats for the duration. Frequent movement in and out of the room increases the overall risk.

Face coverings:

  • All meeting attendees are required to wear a face covering at all times whilst in public spaces, and in the meeting room except when directly addressing the meeting.
  • Face coverings are to cover the mouth and nose.
  • All UN staff will wear face coverings at all times.
  • Disposable face masks will be made available if needed. All delegates and staff will be offered a disposable surgical face mask if needed as part of meeting registration or entry.
  • Masks/face coverings with valves are discouraged as they offer other people little protection unless another mask is worn above or beneath. Those with valved masks will be offered a surgical mask.

Contact precautions:

  • Gloves are not required.
  • Hand-sanitizing stations are distributed throughout the UNHQ complex.
  • No food or drink glassware will be provided in meeting rooms and there will be no food/beverage service except vending machines.


  • All surfaces will be deep cleaned prior to the meeting commencing. Beyond this, attendees are responsible to ensure their workspace is clean and to undertake their own contact precautions.

Airflow and Ventilation

  • Airflow has been optimized to increase fresh air intake.
  • Wherever possible in smaller meeting rooms doors are to remain open.

After the meeting

Upon completion of the meeting attendees are requested to leave the UNHQ complex without delay.

DGACM staff will keep a record of all participants and support personnel present at each meeting so that Occupational Safety and Health staff can commence contact tracing if required:

  • Should any attendee become unwell with or be diagnosed with COVID-19 during or within 14 days of the meeting, they are strongly encouraged to contact DHMOSH medical staff through the confidential address osh@un.org.
  • A review and if necessary contact tracing will take place. Note that no other person will be advised who the contact was.

Emergency medical support is available to any attendee from security staff and from medical staff located in the Secretariat building.

Risk review

All meetings are risk assessed and reviewed for compliance with the mitigation measures advised. If attendees are unable to comply with the mitigation measures above, or any others determined for the meeting, future meetings of the same type may be classified as medium risk.

Strict adherence to these mitigation measures is critical to your health and safety, to the safety of others, and to ensuring actively risk managed meetings can go ahead over the course of the General Assembly period.