Event Planners Frustrated With Restrictions For Large Indoor Gatherings

As COVID-19 restrictions ease for Colorado’s comeback, some event planners say their industry will operate under a different set of rules.

At Occasions Catering in Englewood, business is finally picking up after one of the toughest stretches in the company’s 50-year history. Over the coming weeks, staff will feed guests at weddings, outdoor parties, and fundraising events.

“We have a very busy weekend this coming weekend and most of June is very busy for us,” said owner Jeremy Bronson.

Like many in the industry, Bronson originally thought the recent loosening of restrictions statewide would apply to his business too. Instead, he said the latest public health order is holding them back.

“It was confusing to people, and it also treated us differently than almost any other type of gathering of people,” Bronson said.

According to the public health order, social distancing is still required for mass indoor gatherings of between 100 and 500 people when guests are unvaccinated, or their vaccination status is unknown. Face coverings are also required at such events, with some exceptions.

“They’re making rules that aren’t easily enforceable for our industry,” said Brynn Swanson, a wedding planner and board member with the Colorado Event Alliance (CEA).

“It feels like we have to check those [vaccination cards], and personally as a planner, I haven’t been trained on what’s a valid vaccination card. I don’t want to keep people’s medical records in a google drive folder.”

Swanson said her industry was among the first to close down at the beginning of the pandemic and remains among the last allowed to fully reopen. She said the CEA reached out to the state requesting they provide more guidance on the restrictions or update them.

“If they’re going to open restaurants and they’re going to have the all-star game, they need to let us get back to work and do it the right way,” Swanson said.

Bronson said more distancing means less revenue in the time his business needs it the most.

“If we’re at the point where it’s actually safe to gather, and a lot of the public health guidelines seems to indicate that, then let’s get back to gathering,” Bronson said.

In a response to questions from CBS4, a spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said anyone who is not vaccinated should continue to wear a mask, wash their hands frequently, practice physical distancing, and limit social gatherings.

“Event organizers should work directly with the local public health agency where their event is located to help with guidance for indoor gatherings where 6 feet distancing required between parties of unvaccinated people or when vaccination status is unknown,” stated CDPHE. “People who are not fully vaccinated should continue to wear a mask in indoor public spaces.”

According to the new mask executive order, fully vaccinated individuals can go without masks in almost all settings, with the exception of schools for unvaccinated students, teachers, and staff, as well as other locations.

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