Important Things to Consider Before Reopening Physical Meetings

(Note: this letter is borrowed from NYIntergroup, with thanks.  It is supplied here as a guide and reference for fellow AA Members, however, we do not claim any affiliation with NYIntergroup) 

As groups meet to consider re-opening, we urge them to consult and follow CDC and Rockland County guidelines to protect members, our fellowship as a whole, and others with whom we come in contact.  The facilities in which we meet may also have their own guidelines.

Traditions 1 and 4

“Each group is autonomous,” we often note when making group decisions. The second part of the 4th Tradition is just as important: “except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.” Tradition 1 tells us “Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.” These traditions remind us that we must ensure that our group decisions do not negatively impact our fellow members or A.A. as a whole, and that we as individuals act in ways that ensure our common welfare. Traditions 1 and 4 are important now more than ever. We have to consider the health and well-being of both A.A. members and nonmembers, as well as protect the positive reputation and goodwill of A.A. in the community.

Some Questions to Consider:

  1. Does your group have a complete email/phone list to communicate with group members?
  2. How will your group ensure the maximum number of people permitted in your meeting space?
  3. How will your group ensure the appropriate social distance?
  4. How will your group ensure face masks are worn?
  5. Will your group require members to have temperature checks, for instance, at home, before the meeting
  6. How will your group sanitize contact surfaces before and after each meeting?
  7. What if someone in your group needs to be tested for COVID 19? Will you keep a record of each attendee at each meeting so they may be informed while results are awaited? At what point may this list be destroyed?
  8. What if contact tracing is necessary? How will your group help local health officials do contact tracing?
  9. If passing a physical basket is impossible, how will your group collect Seventh-Tradition contributions? Has an electronic account been set up?
  10. How will physical materials (Step and Tradition shades, meeting binders, literature, meeting and phone lists, anniversary coins, etc.) be handled? What about the set-up and breakdown of a meeting? Can physical meeting materials be replaced with virtual ones?
  11. Will your group eliminate the distribution of coffee and food?
  12. What will be your group’s policy if an attendee is openly sick (e.g., coughing and/or feverish)?
  13. Does your group have insurance? If not, should your group get a policy?

Note: It is not necessary to break another member’s anonymity for contract tracing. Members may simply say they met as friends or as part of a spiritual gathering.

Please note the above list of questions is not intended to be exhaustive.

Practicing Step 12

Please be sure to consider older A.A. members or those with compromised immune systems who may not be able or comfortable returning to your physical meeting until there is an effective COVID 19 vaccine.

Hybrid or Concurrent Meetings

If your group decides to make a physical meeting accessible via Zoom or other electronic platform, we recommend procedures be put in place to alert attendees that the meeting is being broadcast via a virtual platform, and how anonymity will be protected when  doing so. Meetings should not be recorded.

An alternative is to have both physical and virtual meetings of your group to ensure the hand of A.A. is always available to those who need it.

Please be sure to keep us updated on both your physical meetings and virtual ones.

We plan to post information about physical meetings which have reopened in the future.