Protesting Safely

Our primary concern is for your safety and well-being. We are still experiencing a global pandemic, and COVID-19 continues to spread. The safest option in many parts of the world right now is to stay home as much as possible and to limit your contact with others. Many options also exist for protesting online and virtually. If you do decide to join a public, in-person protest, please follow the guidelines below to better protect yourself and others.

For additional information on understanding your rights as a protester, please explore the protesters’ rights ‘scenarios’ on the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) page. 


Stay home if you do not feel well!

If you go out, you risk getting others sick. If you are immunocompromised, please also stay home to protect yourself. You can take action from home by registering to vote, supporting your local community social justice organizations, and contacting your legislators to advocate for change.

Carry what you need to keep you safe.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer, face coverings, your own water bottle, snacks, an ID, and any medication you may need.

Carry soapy water and tap water in squirt bottles.

If you are exposed to pepper spray, first wash the area with soap to break up the oil, then rinse the area with clean water. Avoid rubbing your eyes or face since this could make the burning worse and spread COVID-19.

Go with a small group.

March with a group of people you know, not only for social support, but also to better facilitate contact tracing should one of you test positive for COVID-19 later.

Have a plan.

Prepare mentally and logistically: map out your route and establish exit routes and possible detours, should you need them.

Research the protest.

Is this protest sponsored by a group you trust? Do the organizers of the protest have a safe plan and good communication with participants?


Wear face coverings correctly and consistently.

Make sure your face covering fully covers your nose, mouth, and chin to prevent moisture from spreading. Remember that you can spread COVID-19 even if you do not have any symptoms.

Limit how much you chant or yell.

Chanting or yelling could spread COVID-19, so use noisemakers, drums, or written signs.

Physical distancing is still important.

Keep as much physical distance as possible between yourself and people who are not in your small group.

Practice healthy hand hygiene.

Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and avoid touching others. Avoid touching your face. If you touch your face to adjust your face covering, use hand sanitizer before and after.

Bring your own supplies and do not share.

Avoid sharing opened water bottles, used face coverings, microphones or megaphones. If you want to share supplies with others, bring unopened water bottles and unused face coverings.

Take care of your physical and mental health.

Consider when you may need to leave an unsafe situation. Remember that what others may consider safe may be different than what is safe for you.


Assume that you have been exposed to COVID-19.

Monitor yourself for symptoms and request a test if needed.

Avoid contact with others.

In particular, stay away from those who may be at greater risk of severe COVID-19 illness.

Wash your hands.

Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as soon as you get home.

Take care of your mental health.

If you need additional support, contact the University Counseling Center at (412) 648-7930.

Adapted from guidelines provided by the Ottawa Public Health Department.