COVID-19 Safety Guidance for In-Person Events – How to Safely Clean Up Litter

As the public health situation and precautions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic evolve daily, and as more Americans become vaccinated for all in-person river cleanups or other restoration projects, River Network offers the following guidance.

  • Most importantly, before planning an event, please refer to relevant CDC, local/regional, and facility guidance in addition to the following safety protocols. Consider checking levels of COVID-19 cases at the event location or the locations attendees are arriving from to determine safe event size, if needed.  
  • The size of the event should be determined based on whether attendees from different households can stay at least 6 feet apart (two arm lengths, or roughly the length of a canoe paddle) and consulting relevant data found on the local health department website or on CDC’s COVID Data Tracker County View.
  • Physical distancing at events can reduce transmission risk. For events with more than 25 participants, aim to space out smaller groups across the site or organize different project locations for smaller groups.
  • If it’s not possible to space out, consider a few back-to-back events where people can sign up for separate times or staggered times within one day to control group size. 
  • Given that it is not advisable or permissible in many localities to request a participant’s vaccination status, personal protective equipment (PPE) should continue to be required and available for individuals who forget to bring theirs. Such PPE includes nitrile or safety gloves, disposable masks, and hand sanitizer or wipes.
  • Demonstrate how to wear and use protective equipment safely and effectively.
  • When applicable, provide tools that make it safer to handle trash, such as trash grabbers. Stage all tools to allow for distribution with space between participants and less contact with others’ tools.
  • Ensure there is enough space for participants to stay 6-10 feet apart if eating and drinking a snack or lunch.

*More information will be shared for in-person events this summer and fall 2021 as the external environment continues to evolve. 

Some organizations will continue to opt to make river restoration or educational events virtual, rather than in-person. For these types of engagements, check out our video, featuring Karla Noboa, River Network Community Engagement Manager, on safe litter clean up practices for your community.

For any questions about the above guidance, please email Karla Noboa, Community Engagement Manger at River Network at

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