Two major COVID-19 Restrictions Effecting Event Planners Today
As the world has tried to pivot and live life in various stages of lockdown, meeting planners have been scrambling to cancel and rebook programs that were suddenly deemed illegal. For months, the uncertainty of where and when organizations could once again begin to meet has hung over our industry like an ominous rain cloud. As the industry is now cautiously seeing a light come into focus at the end of the tunnel, there are two major COVID-19 restrictions to keep at the forefront of your planning team’s mind.
Eighteen states have travel restrictions that remain in place including: Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois (Chicago Only), Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington D.C.. The restrictions vary greatly from state to state starting with Alaska’s, which has been in effect since August 11th, and states visitors from other states must do one of the following: submit a travel declaration and self-isolation plan online and arrive with proof of a negative Covid-19 test, follow a plan that your employer filed with the state if you come for work, buy a $250 Covid-19 test when you arrive and self-quarantine at your own expense until you get the results. Connecticut (and other states) bases their policy on the % positivity rate in the state you’re traveling from. Any traveler coming from a state that has a positive rate of 10 out of 100,000 people or a 10% or higher positivity rate must self-quarantine for 14 days. The traveler must have spent more than 24 hours in said state for the rule to apply. Everyone also needs to complete a travel health form. Visitors to Connecticut can opt out of the 14-day quarantine in limited cases if they can provide proof that they have had a negative Covid-19 test in the past 72 hours. There were 34 states plus Guam on the 10% or higher positivity list as of September 22. The list is updated each Tuesday. https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/travel
With travel restrictions covering 18 states across the U.S., it can make it very tricky for planners bringing attendees together from coast to coast to manage the varying requirements on both the inbound and outbound segments. For attendees from some states, it may make attendance at live events impractical. The growing trend, while travel restrictions remain in place, is to focus on regional programs where the travel can be in-state or drawing attendees from a smaller pool of states to manage.
A majority of states have restrictions on event and venue occupancy that must be adhered to. Some states have different restrictions for outdoor versus indoor venues. Some states, such as Alaska, have allowed venues to reopen at 100%, but mandate attendees must stay 6 ft apart. Colorado has allowed indoor events to resume, but with a flat cap of 100 attendees, while outdoor events may have up to 175 people. Some states, such as Texas, have left it up to local governments to determine if gatherings can take place while hotels are permitted to use their venues now up to 75% occupancy. These restrictions can be confusing and a tangled web to unweave. What makes things even more complicated is that these restrictions can change from week to work. While many predict these restrictions will further ease as we head toward the end of 2020, to what extent and where still remains to be seen. Meeting planners must stay up to date on the occupancy restrictions, by state, while they work to source their event venues and always implement a force majeure clause that protects against cancellation penalty in the event that COVID-19 restrictions make their event impractical or unlawful.