IS MY EVENT OVER BEFORE IT EVEN BEGINS?
There's a lot of information, misinformation and speculation floating around right now. For every person that thinks businesses will be reopened in a matter of days or weeks, there is another that believes stay at home orders will occur for the next year or two. For those planning an event, this can cause quite a bit of uncertainty. As vendors, couples and hosts look to us to help them call the shots.
As a Dj, I've attempted to summarize my understanding of the situation, as well as a few thoughts on how those planning events in Northeast Ohio can proceed in 2020. As with all other articles on this site, please note - these are my ideas and interpretations. I am not authorized to speak on behalf of the federal, state or local government, nor can I speak on behalf of any individual vendor you have scheduled. I am also not a doctor or attorney, and therefore can not offer medical or legal advice.
So... Without further ado, here's my interpretation.
HERE'S WHAT WE KNOW
In Ohio, a mandatory "stay at home" order was placed by Governor Mike DeWine closing non-essential businesses and placing restrictions on mass gatherings (such as weddings) starting March 2020. Beginning May 1st, the state plans to begin a phased-in reopening of the economy. At the time of writing this article, there is no universally recognized or accepted treatment or vaccine for COVID-19 (Coronavirus), therefore, businesses reopening may be subject to new restrictions and some individuals may be hesitant to resume their personal "business as usual".
Depending on each individuals' source of news/media, experiences and occupation, opinions on severity and the appropriate measures/response to the COVID-19 Pandemic will vary. Based on our understanding of the situation, there's a few things we can likely agree on:
- Travel may put someone at an elevated risk
- Senior citizens and those with additional adverse health conditions may be at greater risk
- The law of averages implies the more contact you have with others, the higher your probability or likelihood is to catch a virus
There's really no way to sugarcoat the following statement - this is bad news for weddings and events. Not only do people travel to be part of a wedding, but chances are some guests will be elderly and/or possess other risk factors. Weddings and gatherings are also a time for friends and family to participate in activities or share in a meal together which may involve close proximity. As an event host, bride, groom or immediate family member of a newlywed, you'll likely be in close contact with most if not all of your guest list. While this all may sound really scary to you now, there's things that can be done to adapt to the situation, and will continually evolve as everyone knows more. We've done what we can to capture some ideas for adaptation on this site.
HERE'S WHAT WE DON'T KNOW
While many expect life will begin to resume some semblance of normalcy once the "stay at home" order (sometimes referred to as "shelter in place" restriction) is lifted in our area, there are still many unknowns which may impact your wedding or event including:
- How will small businesses serving you be impacted?
- What restrictions will persist on mass gatherings (such as weddings, festivals and corporate functions) and for how long?
- What recommendations will be made around social distancing?
- How will travel be impacted?
- Will there be any further new directives to "shelter in place", "stay at home" or "quarantine" in the future?
HOW THIS IMPACTS WEDDINGS AND EVENTS:
- First and foremost, we do not know when "mass gatherings" will be officially allowed
- Second, we do not know what new definitions of "mass gatherings" will consist of, and whether or not regulation will differ between "public" and "private" events
- We do not know what new requirements may be in place for "mass gatherings" (such as the possibility for a max capacity allowed per square foot)
While it may be possible to continue on with your event, modifications to plans may need to be made according to laws/orders/regulations, or requirements set in place by facilities or healthcare providers. We realize, while an event may still be technically possible to host, there is more that goes into a host's decision including:
- Whether or not the host judges it is safe to hold the event
- Whether or not guests can (or want to) attend
- Whether or not it is financially a possibility to continue the event as planned in the current economy
AN EDUCATED GUESS
Once "mass gatherings" are once again allowed, in our opinion, it might be reasonable to expect:
- There could potentially be a "cap" on a number of guests permitted at a gathering based on the number of seats open, square footage available, or ability to support social distancing guidelines.
- Guidelines might be made for sanitation of surfaces commonly touched, serving of food/beverage and forfeiture of participation by those who may be ill.
- It may be until around Memorial Day when many have a better idea as to what this will look like
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PREPARE
My advice to anyone who asks me if they should cancel or prepare to host their event differently is typically:
- Unless your event is less than a month out - don't make any quick (uninformed) decisions
- Talk to your venue first to gauge whether or not they believe they will be open for your event and check to see if they have received any specific instructions from the state
- If your event is less than three months out, perhaps look into the option of an alternate date so that way if it is needed, you are ready
- If anything is being "special ordered", and is fresh or perishable, speak with the vendor(s) providing it to see what kind of notice they might need should your plans change
- Use the current guidelines set by the state (such as the maximum amount of people allowed per square foot) as a potential guideline for scaling back your guest list or relocating space if need be
- Check to see what specific laws and regulations apply to you in your area and at your venue
THE CURRENT STATE OF EVENTS (WHAT WE'VE SEEN SO FAR)
As expected, at By Request, most of our April events have been postponed or canceled. Some have been rescheduled as early as June 2020. A good portion of our events occurring before Memorial Day are waiting until next week (5/4) to make a final decision if they have not done so already.
Some couples who had weddings scheduled in the near future are electing to still proceed with the ceremony, and/or elope taking advantage of low travel prices. Out of these couples, some are adjusting their reception - whether it is to a private party in a different location than they had initially planned for, or, scaling the guest list back to immediate family only to fall under the max number allowed by the state. Some are electing to split their reception into a smaller one this summer and a larger one at a later time. Others are postponing altogether.
Ultimately, if it is possible to hold an event (you have an open facility and guests who will attend), and you can legally and safely do so - the decision to continue on as planned is yours.