The Covid pandemic had a devastating impact on events in New York City in 2020 and most of 2021. Many venues were closed entirely, and others were limited by social distancing, mask-wearing, and vaccine requirements.
While 2020 and 2021 have been difficult years for event operators in New York City, there is renewed hope for 2022. As the pandemic eases and vaccination rates rise, events will soon run again at pre-2020 levels.
George Russo, a business leader in hospitality from Queens, NY, looks ahead to how event venues in New York City and across the country are adjusting their operations to accommodate the newest health and safety requirements.
The Importance of Special Events to the New York City Economy
Without weddings, concerts, and other special events, the New York City economy has suffered. These events bring in an influx of visitors to the area, increasing business for hotels, restaurants, other hospitality businesses, retailers, and service businesses like salons. Small-scale and large-scale event venues such as catering halls also suffered because they were forced to close completely for an extended period of time.
Conventions largely went virtual in 2020 and 2021. Many companies across the country forbade business travel for any reason. The convention industry was left without any income, and many jobs were lost. As the New York City area recovers from the pandemic, shifts in how conventions are run will likely become permanent.
Conventions in 2022 and well into the future will likely incorporate some virtual elements. Allowing some attendees to participate virtually will cut down on business costs to send employees to the convention and make the entire event less expensive. This may cause a money crunch for convention operators, who will have to be creative to recoup their revenues in another way.
Virtual events will progress beyond the simple webcam in the corner and become seamless and highly produced.
Today, event venues must focus even more on creating a clean and hygienic environment that can reduce the spread of Covid and other diseases. Event venues are using more disinfecting products than ever before. They are also installing HEPA filters that can remove particles as small as virus droplets from the air.
The self-service buffet has largely been replaced by sit-down dining. Items such as continental breakfasts that are normally presented in family-style containers are now being presented individually wrapped.
Other great alternatives for the self-service buffet are bento boxes, grab-and-go lunch bags, and restaurant vouchers.
The CDC recommends that all attendees and staff wear masks properly during an event. If mask-wearing is compromised, people will have a much greater chance of spreading the Covid virus. Designating a staff member to do mask checks and distribute surgical masks to people who may have forgotten them is now a vital area of concern.
Hand-washing will continue to be vital for both guests and employees of the venue. The CDC prefers washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and drying using a clean paper towel. If soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol may be used.
The Outlook for Weddings and Private Events
As Covid restrictions are gradually lifted, the event industry and the closely related tourism industry are beginning to rebound. Bookings for weddings are currently experiencing a boom since couples who postponed their nuptials now want to tie the knot. Couples may find that they are spending more for venues and service providers than they would have pre-Covid. According to statistics, couples would have to pay an average of $48,600 for a New York wedding. This extra jolt of cash in the New York City economy will be beneficial for the public good.
The outlook for private events like weddings continues to improve in New York City. Most Covid-related restrictions were lifted in the State of New York and New York City in June 2021, thanks to rising vaccination rates. Vaccination mandates remain in effect for these venues as of September 13, 2021.
Wedding venue operators like George Russo are excited to have their facilities running at full capacity again, and they can host events of all sizes. Compliance with New York City and CDC regulations is a must when planning weddings and other events.
Ensuring a Safe Event
Event venue owners like George Russo have many ways to reduce the risk of transmitting Covid between their employees and guests. This will help to keep infection rates down and help to avoid future restrictions which may recur due to new variants of the virus and rising hospitalization rates.
If you are planning to host an event in New York City or anywhere throughout the country, make sure that you consider the points in this article. If you reduce the spread of Covid by your guests and employees, future restrictions will be less likely, and the outlook for the events industry will be improved.