SCIF COVID Advisory Resource: Reopening In-Person Meetings

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Message From SCIF Chair

Based on inquiries from the public, we have decided to publish a resource for those who are interested in reopening their meetings. This is by no means a recommendation, suggestion or mandate. It is simply our hope that each group’s individual decision regarding reopening contributes to our fellowship’s unity.

In Service,
Kevin H.

SCIF neither endorses nor opposes groups reopening in-person meetings. 

It is the responsibility of each group to make their own informed decision. It is important to check the most current updates. The below is not comprehensive. Please follow established guidance on group gatherings. 

To ensure that meetings continue to be available to newcomers, please contact Sonoma County Intergroup with any details about meeting updates.

Mindfulness of Traditions to Protect AA

Tradition 1 tells us “Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.” When making group decisions, we say, “Each group is autonomous.”

The second part of Tradition 4 is just as important: “except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.” 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.

The health and well-being of other A.A. members, and the positive reputation and goodwill of A.A. in the community are just as important to keep in mind now as they always have been.

Considerations for group discussion before re-opening

WHEN CAN A.A. GROUPS SAFELY RE-OPEN MEETINGS?

As an organization and as individuals, we are not exempt from the law. Please contact the Sonoma County Public Health Department for updated information on the current restrictions in our area.

WHAT IF OUR GROUP IS READY TO RE-OPEN BUT THE CHURCH OR FACILITY WHERE WE MEET IS NOT?

Groups will need permission from their churches and facilities to resume meetings on the premises—either inside or on the grounds or parking lot.

WHAT SAFETY PROTOCOLS SHOULD GROUPS HAVE IN PLACE? 

Groups should be aware of the state restrictions and guidelines churches and facilities have in place, as well as each facility’s individual requirements. 

Groups can contact their church or facility to determine their safety requirements and group policy.

Here are some of the public health safety guidelines recommended by the State of California for Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the re-opening:

  • Limiting the number of people into the space
  • Recommending distancing of 6 feet between individuals
  • Wearing face masks
  • Non-contact temperature taking at the doors (preferred) or voluntary temperature taking at home
  • Sanitizing contact surfaces before and after each meeting
COMBINING IN-PERSON AND VIRTUAL MEETINGS

Some groups have talked about the possibility of combining in-person meetings with Zoom meetings to form a “hybrid” meeting. If your group is leaning toward this option, here are some considerations:

  • Is everyone at the in-person meeting comfortable participating in a video Zoom meeting?
  • Would it be better to disable the video capability but allow the phone function?
  • California has recording laws that groups should be aware of
    • This means everyone participating in the meeting must give their consent before any electronic communication is started.  
    • In California, implied consent is enough to make the call legal, meaning, anyone who stays at the meeting is giving consent.  Making a statement and having clear signage would comply with California’s recording law.  
    • Some group secretaries make an announcement at the beginning of the meeting such as, “This is to inform everyone that there is electronic equipment being used to connect to Zoom so that others online may participate.”  

Stay updated

As the COVID-19 restrictions relax, it would be helpful to stay informed and keep us informed so that our program is available to newcomers. Feel free to give us feedback and suggestions about what you’ve learned.

Sources
The majority of the content above has been drawn from the following sites: