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Measures at UNOG to address the situation related to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

Dear NGO Representatives,

The United Nations Office at Geneva would like to inform you of the following measures it is taking to address the situation related to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, and mitigate the potential spread of the virus. These measures are based on recommendations received from United Nations Headquarters, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Host Country (both federal and cantonal authorities).

After WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, the UN Secretary-General called for responsibility, solidarity and action, and for all governments to step up and scale up their efforts. The President of the General Assembly, for his part, recommended measures aimed at scaling down the number of people at gatherings within the United Nations premises.

Here, in Geneva, we have applied similar measures, including moving meetings to large conference rooms that allow for adequate spacing between participants, increasing cleaning, providing hand sanitizers in conference rooms, and communicating to meeting participants and staff about hygiene measures and where to seek medical assistance if needed.

UNOG has also issued the “Meeting Guidelines: COVID -19” to provide guidance to organizers of meetings during the outbreak. The aim is to maintain mandated activities, while scaling down, postponing – or if not possible, cancelling - other activities. The guidelines ask that organizers carry out a thorough assessment of the criticality of the meetings and risks associated with holding them. Recommendations are made to organizers who decide to maintain a meeting, that the Chair ask each delegation to send only one or two representatives at most to attend in person, and that delegations be informed of categories of people whom the Swiss authorities have identified as being particularly at risk and who should not attend.

To protect delegates, staff and others, precautionary measures have been taken to reduce the number of non-essential visitors to the Palais des Nations. Guided tours, for instance, have been suspended. Cultural Events organized by Permanent Missions, Permanent Observer Offices and International Organizations together with UNOG have all been cancelled.

Please note that in line with the above, as of 16 March and until further notice, entrance to the Palais des Nations will be strictly reserved for NGO representatives with annual grounds passes NGO representatives with temporary grounds passes will not be permitted entrance.