Where Events Stand Now: April, 2022
I’ve stopped checking the New York Times COVID Tracker every morning.
I’ve stopped looking at every little bit of COVID news, and trying to read the tea leaves about how tiny COVID changes might impact events moving forward.
The reason why is simple. At some point last month, there was a fundamental change in people, how they view COVID, and events. People stopped caring about COVID. They simply, collectively, seemed to decide: Done. Republicans, democrats, liberal or conservative.
Attendance at events, which had been lagging the first two months of the year, exploded. In some cities this attitude was more pronounced than others. We had events in New York City, Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale, Dallas, Tulsa, Chicago, Washington, Baltimore, Orlando, Miami. Greenville — I’m sure I’m missing a few — and across those cities the attitude was the same.
Flight attendants went through the whole mask speech — half-heartedly. On March 16, when the federal mask mandate was extended for another month, I heard one flight attendant swear under her breath when the news hit the plane.
Alcoholic drinks came back onto Southwest’s menu.
Hotel free breakfast — mostly — came back. In some form. Executive lounges remain closed.
Hotel room cleaning remains curtailed. I think that has more to do with lack of staff than COVID — and, a pervasive attitude in the hotel industry to milk COVID for all it’s worth. It’s expensive to clean rooms daily. Or even three times per week. One hotel simply said, “room cleaning is suspended unless you request with 24 hours advanced notice.”
Flights are still a little screwy — but not because of COVID. Because of weather. And normal mysterious travel issues, typically localized, with a few exceptions.
The news reports airline staff shortages still persist (according to Bloomberg and CNBC). Flights are full again. Hotels, too.
Participants began to expect the same style of events as pre-COVID. In January and early February, everyone expected less crowds, and a hybrid experience, keeping masks and sanitizers on hand. While mask wearing, even then, was mainly the always-fashionable chin bra mask, the face coverings were visible and in reach if a nasty virus became visible. By nasty virus I mean the mask checker, not the microscopic COVID virus.
Last week in Dallas? The only masks I saw were at the airport. Even Uber drivers had tossed them. Taxis, too. (Though one Uber driver reported Matthew for not wearing his mask. Which was strange, because the Uber driver wasn’t in a mask, either. Hmmmmmmm…..)
Crowds are still off a bit to pre-COVID events, but just a bit. Bassmasters in Greenville was at capacity. The New York City Travel and Adventure Show — the first one held in that city — was well attended.
To be fair, there are grumblings of the newest variant of a variant — BA.2. Here’s how the news has shifted. I couldn’t remember the name of the latest variant (which is a variant of Omicron, in case you didn’t know) and searched my news feed for the name. In order to find an article on BA.2, I had to go to my special “COVID-19” feed; it wasn’t anywhere on my afternoon news crawl. For context, a few weeks ago, it would have been in “latest news”. Now, it’s all about Ukraine. And Will Smith, but mainly Ukraine.
Our event schedule remains robust, and I’m toying with going back to in-person props. Discussions with event planners aren’t including COVID precautions. If I bring it up, typically I’m quickly shut down.
That’s ok, because I’m