With the mask mandate back across Los Angeles County, event planners are scrambling to reassess and potentially reschedule anniversaries, ceremonies, and parties. Without adequate adjustments, these events could end up getting canceled or indefinitely postponed.
In the meantime, would-be revelers are making do with the 2020 playbook. From sending funny birthday ecards to hosting weddings over Zoom, Los Angelinos found ways to share love and happiness without sharing the same space. If parties and ceremonies are put on hold again, expect similar approaches to physical distancing.
The good news is that reinstated mask mandates are indoor-only. This means event planners have the option to find outdoor settings for birthday parties and other celebrations. But there’s a catch; while L.A. County is home to thousands of outdoor venues, finding available bookings on short notice will be almost impossible.
It’s not just ordinary Los Angelinos having to deal with event planning woes thanks to reinstated mask mandates. Event planners in Hollywood are canceling in-person events, including special screenings and other exhibitions. Industry insiders expect to see further cancelations through late August.
For many Santa Monicans, the writing was on the wall the moment it became clear the Delta variant was spreading fast. An Edify TV report earlier in the month revealed mask-wearing was up amongst Westside mall shoppers due to concern over the rapid spread of the Delta variant, doing so nearly a week before officials announced the reinstatement of the mask mandate.
While the Delta variant of COVID-19 is the spark, unvaccinated individuals are the kindling fueling the fire. Not only do the unvaccinated make up the overwhelming majority of current COVID-related hospitalizations, they inherently help to spread the virus faster due to lacking existing immunity. The vaccinated may have little to fear, but there’s no guarantee you still won’t get sick.
Despite millions spent on public awareness campaigns, 39% of LA County residents 16 or older are not yet fully vaccinated. While 61% fully vaccinated sounds good, the leftovers serve as a massive reservoir for the virus to hide, transmit, and mutate. Combined with the speed at which the Delta variant spreads, health officials had no choice but to reinstate the mask mandate for indoor gatherings.
Fortunately, those in the process of planning smaller events ought to have an easier time organizing a replacement venue. Backyards, public parks, and restaurants with outdoor seating are great replacements for bars and nightclubs. Smaller groups mean more options and alternatives.
However, let’s not forget we were wearing masks indoors for over a year before the original mandate was lifted. We got through an entire summer with our masks on wherever we went. Is it too much to ask guests to once again wear masks for the greater good? With proper ventilation and appropriate physical distancing, indoor parties can go off without a hitch, even with everyone wearing masks. Sure, the photos won’t be good, but the world has enough photos. It’s the memories that matter most.
With that said, the real concern among event planners and guests is the rapidity in which the Delta variant spreads. It’s not so much the need to wear a mask, as much as the concern over getting sick, that has people hesitant to attend any events happening indoors. This is especially true for those with small children who are not yet eligible for the vaccine.
Ultimately, as vaccination rates increase, the need to wear masks will go down. Californians should take a lesson from the French. As soon as the government announced a vaccine requirement for admittance into bars and cafes, demand for vaccination suddenly soared. Perhaps the promise of a mask-free birthday party is what it takes to get the shot?