In 2022, Friends General Conference created a Pandemic Health & Safety Policy. The edition embedded below is the most up-to-date version of the policy.

Why was this policy created?

  • We believe that FGC is a religious community with a responsibility to all who attend FGC events
    • This responsibility includes maintaining event safety to the degree possible
      • Individual choices affect others in the community
      • Marginalized community members have been found to be at greater risk of serious illness & death from COVID-19. These infections have a disproportionate impact on poor people, disabled people, immuno-compromised people, un- and under-insured people, as well as Black and Brown people.

Government bodies and other organizations have lifted restrictions, why not FGC?

  • Many health authorities disagree with these decisions
  • Political and business concerns can influence public policy to depart from optimal safety policies
  • FGC is committed to making events as safe as possible, not just reasonably safe for most

Why so many tests?

  • PCR tests can detect infection 1-2 days before an at-home test
    • PCR tests can remain positive after illness has resolved and the person is no longer infectious. PCR testing two weeks before an event can show a person was ill, but they are no longer infectious at the time of the event, so attendance at an event would be safe
    • PCR tests and results may be difficult to obtain immediately prior to attendance, so rapid at-home tests about 72 hours before arrival offer a reasonable alternative
  • Rapid at-home tests can miss an infection
    • It may report a “false negative” result, a greater problem with Omicron & variants
    • It may miss an early infection
  • Rapid at-home testing about 72 hours before arrival, coupled with a repeat rapid test on arrival mitigates these risks

What are current concerns about the virus?

  • We continue to suffer from a global pandemic with recurrent waves of infection.
  • Viral evolution continues. Multiple recent variants show resistance to immunity from prior infections and vaccines as well as medications
  • Viral evolution can produce variants carrying greater risk of severe disease & death
  • Understanding of the risks of evolving variants lags weeks behind infections
  • Even mild or asymptomatic infections in vaccinated people can produce “Long Covid”Between 1 in 3 and 1 in 5 people have symptoms of “Long Covid” after an infection, even if it is asymptomatic and they are fully vaccinated
  • Children under 6 months old are not eligible for vaccination
  • Unvaccinated children, the immune compromised, those with certain (common) conditions and the elderly are at greater risk of severe disease & death.
  • Serious illness and death occur even in healthy teens and young adults, though their relative risk is lower than in those who are older.

Why are face masks required?

  • Not all attenders can receive the relative protection of vaccination
  • Vaccinated & boosted people can still become infected
  • Face masks protect the wearer
  • Face masks protect those around them

What kind of mask is best?

  • N95 masks with straps around the head provide the best protection
  • N95 & KN95 with ear loops are next best, as they tend to leak more
  • “Surgical masks” offer some protection, but leaks are a weakness
  • Cloth masks and “gaiters” are ineffective and unsatisfactory
  • Double masking improves surgical and cloth masks somewhat
  • Face shields offer slight additional protection if used with a good mask and no protection if not combined with a mask

Will FGC provide tests and masks?

  • Rapid tests upon arrival will be provided
  • Mid-week rapid tests will be provided if necessary.
  • Some masks will be available, but plan to bring your own

How can meals be safer?

  • Wear a mask while obtaining food, then take the food outside to eat.
  • Wear a mask while obtaining food, take it off to eat but eat promptly, and either resume a mask to socialize or leave the dining area for the outside in order to socialize.
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