With Labor Day symbolically closing out the summer season and ushering in fall – a prime meetings and convention time – organizations are trying to decide on the best approach to gathering given the ever-shifting COVID landscape. Just a few short weeks ago it seemed like “all systems go” again for the meetings and events industry. Now, due to the increasingly concerning COVID-19 and Delta variant pandemic trends, many states and counties have issued new rules and regulations, forcing organizers to reevaluate upcoming plans.
States such as Hawaii, Nevada, and Louisiana have shifted back to requiring masks to be worn at all times indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Cities like Boston for example, have opted to require the mask mandate outside of state regulations. Along with the mask mandate, California will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours of an indoor event with 1,000 attendees or more. This mandate goes into effect on September 20, 2021, and other states may follow suit.
As meeting planners, it is essential to keep on top of the rapidly changing COVID restrictions, mandates, and policies (from state to state and across county and city lines) to ensure the safety and security of all involved – from attendees and sponsors to partners and planners alike. At Castle, we are continually consulting with our clients to help them make the best decisions for their stakeholders, achieve their meeting goals and mitigate financial loss. This includes knowing the fine details of the meeting destination, venue, and travel requirements, understanding all legal considerations, negotiating the most favorable contract language, keeping an eye on ever-changing policies, shifting gears when necessary and thinking ahead. It does not mean that meetings and events cannot occur; it means more careful consideration is necessary in the planning process.
Summer surfing may be over, but as meeting planners we’re still riding the waves and learning to skillfully navigate the choppy waters of the COVID pandemic.