The Marine Biological Laboratory is committed to regular communications with conference groups as we work on our own preparations to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. We are carefully monitoring the situation and our authoritative sources of information (likely similar to your home institutions) are the CDC and the state health department, in our case the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MA DPH). In addition, because of our affiliation with the University of Chicago, we are able to take advantage of their resources and expertise. We are also extending our existing emergency response plans to cover the specific ongoing situation. While we expect travel cancellations of individuals coming from severely affected (i.e. where CDC Level 3 travel restrictions are in place) overseas locations, there are no travel restrictions within the US at this time and no broad US-wide directives or guidance regarding cancelling gatherings (i.e. in schools, conferences, athletic events etc.) or recommendations regarding social distancing. The MA DPH assesses that the risk to the public from COVID-19 remains low in the state. Right now, we will be keeping things moving forward as planned for all of our upcoming scheduled conferences, workshops, and events. This is, of course, subject to change depending on how things evolve but these are our current plans. The MBL is setting up a Coronavirus webpage to post communication and updates to operations related to the virus.
We do realize that some of your participants may need to cancel because of institutional restrictions on travel or other concerns. We have attached the current policy and contractual guidelines related to cancellations. We understand these are unusual times and we will work with you as much as possible to seek workable solutions to this situation.
The MBL Conference Services Department is here to help your meeting in any way we can, we can send emails to your current participants, update websites per your requests, or change registration confirmations to include additional information.
As things change daily, we will continue to monitor and update these policies and communicate with you the organizers when needed.
Paul W. Anderson