As vaccinations increase and COVID-19 numbers decrease in numerous cities, provinces, and countries around us, many planners are beginning to eagerly edge their way out of virtual events, as their desire for in-person events prevails. However, we, as planners, must be mindful of our ethical duty to our clients and the attendees of all events that we ensure everyone’s utmost safety. In this article we will outline the newest restrictions, as well as remind planners what they can do for their business, versus what they should do in this time.
Current restrictions for hot spot locations (including Edmonton, Calgary, and Red Deer) require that no indoor gatherings must take place and outdoor gathering must be no larger than 5 people. These restrictions are specific to gatherings only and are in addition to the restrictions imposed back in April.
As always, for all the Alberta Government Guidance and Restrictions, please refer to their website.
Things are not looking good for the province again; however, an article posted by the Edmonton Journal outlined that there is hope on the horizon if all eligible persons get their vaccination as soon as possible. There is reason to believe that all major restrictions could be ended by late June, which would be a huge win for event planners in many regards. Jason Kenney has been quoted, saying:
“I believe we’re going to have a Calgary Stampede, we’re going to have outdoor events, we’re going to have most of these restrictions lifted gradually through May and June. But we have to get through the next few weeks and beat the spike.”
Around the same time, a letter was received from Dr. Hinshaw to ALEC (Alberta Live Events Coalition) who gave some insight into the timelines for audience gatherings regarding events. The letter, which was received in April, outlined the following:
- Late May: 15% of fixed seating capacity to a maximum of 100 people outdoors
- Late June: 50% of fixed seating capacity to a maximum of 500 people outdoors and 15% of fixed seating capacity to a maximum of 100 people indoors
- Late July: Removal of capacity restrictions
Statements like this have the population becoming very excited for a restriction-free summer full of parties, weddings, and gatherings of all kinds! But we must remember, these positive outlooks were made before cases sky-rocketed again; with dangerous variant cases making up large portions of the covid landscape.
In our small community of planners, we have heard that some event professionals across the province are pushing for in-person events, and even refusing to take business from clients that are requesting digital services. This push, while understandable, may be too soon. Requiring people to meet in person could damage our industry in potentially irreversible ways. Halls, venues, hotels and other related industries are already suffering brutal expenses that they cannot cover with even 50% capacity, and they will not be able to tolerate this much longer.
Many of our incredible vendors will have to close their businesses for good, but that’s not all: our clients’ brands and reputations could be on the line if an outbreak were to happen at one of their events. Thinking broader, this could have a ripple effect on our entire industry, as a whole, if more outbreaks come from gatherings put on by professional planners, it could lead to government sanctions and restrictions put specifically on our events.
By forging ahead without much thought into the potential adverse effects of our actions, our industry could see more unravelling than ever before. Until restrictions are finally eased, virtual and hybrid event will play a great role in the coming months and even years, but we are not yet in the clear for full on in-person events.
To wrap up this post, we will leave you with the final thoughts from, Kevin Moleskin, CSEP and event business owner, who had this to say in a recent article done for PCMA,
“Planners need to stop thinking of digital as a stopgap measure and focus on reskilling because the events industry is evolving into a broadcast medium…Far too many event profs are living in a world of rainbows and unicorns these days. Hope is not a strategy. We have to be realistic if we are going to move forward.” To learn more about the best virtual event platforms for your specific event needs, please look at our Virtual Event Resource.
– Your Tycoon, Stephani XO