How will UN General Assembly participants adhere to Covid-19 restrictions?

Attendees will be required to prove that they have tested negative for Covid-19

The United Nations logo in the General Assembly hall in New York. Photo: Reuters
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The UN General Assembly has issued a set of Covid-19 guidelines for those attending the 77th session in New York on September 19, its first in-person assembly since the disease outbreak two years ago.

Each of the UNGA's 193 member states are represented at the annual event and they are normally required to vote on policies and deliberations according to a pre-set agenda. This year, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and rising energy prices are among the priorities.

Last year, the assembly took place via Zoom due to travel restrictions and Covid fears.

For this year's session, the UN said it had asked local authorities to set up an area for people to get tested for Covid-19 and receive vaccinations on 1st Avenue, close to the premises of the main event.

UN staff will use the organisation's internal portal, EarthMed, to report positive cases.

All participants are required to prove that they have tested negative for Covid-19 in the five days prior to entering the premises. “International travellers are required to have met local incoming travel requirements as they relate to Covid-19", the UN's guidelines say.

During the “high-level week” which begins on September 19, face masks are required at all times in the main and conference building, except when eating or drinking or actively speaking at a meeting.

These requirements are in line with the US Centres for Disease Control's rules for entry to the US.

Attendees should also be aware of the following during the General Assembly:

Showing symptoms

Anybody feeling unwell should leave the complex where the assembly is being held and seek medical assistance from an “external provider”.

A vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease booster vaccine, targeting BA. 4 and BA. 5 Omicron sub variants. Reuters

If they exhibit symptoms of Covid-19, such as fever, a cough or fatigue, or in the event that they actually test positive for the disease, they are required to inform their sponsors or permanent mission.

After that a decision will be made as to whether to inform other attendees.

High-level meetings

During sessions with top officials, an emergency response team will be on standby and ready to deploy from the medical clinic at the UNGA's headquarters.

Medical staff will also be available should any minor injuries occur.

Overall attendance

To prevent overcrowding, the UN has limited the number of people attending, including journalists.

“Entry to the Headquarters complex will be restricted to manage overall risk and ensure that adequate space is maintained for physical distancing, where required,” the guidelines state.

Visitors will also be prohibited from entering.

Updated: September 13, 2022, 1:03 PM