Updated 8/10/21: Many of the New York State restrictions that put the brakes on weddings in 2020 are history, but we're not quite "out of the woods" just yet. With the Delta variant on the rise thanks to those who choose to remain unvaccinated, some of those inconvenient restrictions could be coming back. I'm keeping tabs on it all for my clients -- read on for the latest.
Note: This post was originally published in late February and has been updated as regulations change. I'll continue to update this post ASAP when any changes are announced.
On August 1, the CDC announced Onondaga County has "substantial" transmission levels of COVID. That means all persons are recommended to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
On August 10, the CDC announced our local transmission levels are "high." All surrounding counties continue to have what the CDC considers "substantial" transmission rates.
The CDC "recommendation" is not a mandate, but it can prompt local authorities -- or even individual venues -- to implement their own requirements.
On August 10, for example, Onondaga County announced masks will be required for all persons within all indoor spaces at the New York State Fair later this month, regardless of vaccination status.
No mandates for wedding venues yet, but I'd say the State Fair mask mandate definitely puts people "on notice" that other types of businesses -- including wedding venues -- could become impacted again, if COVID transmission rates continue to climb.
The best thing you can do is encourage all of your guests to get vaccinated if they have not already done so. Tell them, if not for themselves, do it for you and the other loved-ones who will be at your wedding. Same goes for any other friends, and co-workers if you feel comfortable bringing up the topic -- because restrictions and mandates aren't just based on your wedding invite list, they're based on the overall vaccination rates and virus transmission rates within a city, county, state or the country in general.
For now, the rest of the information below is still accurate when it comes to weddings, but only if we can make sure transmission rates don't continue to get worse than they already have. Save this page in your web browser and check back regularly for updates.
Vax Rate Hits 70%: Most Restrictions End
[Updated 6/15/21] Following through on a promise made last week, Governor Cuomo announced today that most COVID-related restrictions are lifted. For many businesses including wedding reception venues, this means:
- Face-coverings are no longer required for vaccinated individuals.
- Guests are no longer required to present proof of vaccination or negative testing to enter the venue.
- Venues are no longer required to gather everybody's contact information for potential tracing.
- Reduced capacity limits are history -- if your venue is OK with it, you can increase your guest count to 100% of the venue's capacity!
- Social distancing is history -- no need to space your tables 6 feet apart, no need to worry about who's dancing with whom, and no need to leave 12 feet of open space around your DJ or band!
Current COVID-19 Wedding Restrictions in New York State
Although the removal of these restrictions takes a lot of pressure off couples and wedding service providers, some restrictions will continue.
In accordance with CDC guidance, New York State says unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear a face covering. But... since venues are no longer required to ask guests for proof of vaccination at the door, it seems this requirement is going to wind up relying largely on the "honor system."
Even though the government no longer requires vaccinated individuals to wear masks at weddings, individual businesses, like wedding venues, have the option to require masks, temperature checks, or other measures.
However, at the weddings I've done so far in 2021, venues haven't. After all, most venues charge by the seat - there's no financial incentive for them to prevent any of your guests from attending!
Still, it never hurts to touch base with your venue to confirm their policies before you send out your invites or any other types of updates to your guest list. And because things can change anytime, it might be a good idea to put together a "wedding website" and point guests there for any last-minute updates. Zola, WeddingWire, TheKnot all allow you to create free websites to keep guests informed.
NYS Travel Advisory
[Updated 8/10/21] The NYS Travel Advisory, which previously applied to people traveling into New York from other states or countries, is no longer in effect. Instead, the State says "All travelers, domestic and international, should continue to follow all CDC travel requirements."
Let's get the party started!
I'm very excited that we're finally "back to normal" after so many months wondering when this would happen, and not knowing what "normal" would actually look like. My weddings so far in 2021 have been excellent -- we all just need to do our part to keep things open for the rest of 2021 and beyond.