Things have changed again in the world of COVID with the dominance of the Delta variant. It is more contagious, might be more serious, and can cause increased “breakthrough” infections in those vaccinated.
Our Safety Procedures
Our safety procedures are sound. We require everyone attending the IFBC to be vaccinated, have a negative PCR test, or be recently infected and recovered from COVID. We have an outdoor venue, meaning most of the conference will take place outside. We are now increasing our mask wearing to require masks on buses to excursions and recommend them at other times when indoors.
Wine Media Conference as an Example
Will this work to keep you safe? Based on our success at the recent Wine Media Conference, we believe it will.
At the Wine Media Conference in early August in Oregon, we had the same basic safety procedures. Except that we held the conference indoors and did not require mask wearing. There were many instances of wine tasting when people simply could not wear masks. The result? After much emailing with attendees, we are not aware of any cases of community spread of COVID at the conference. If we did this at the WMC, we can do it at the IFBC.
What About Texas?
Texas has been in the news a lot, none of it good, with respect to COVID. Hospital beds are filling or full and the governor has forbidden counties, cities, and school districts to impose mask mandates. However, we should keep two things in mind:
- The state law does not ban private businesses from imposing mask mandates. We will mandate masks when in buses transporting to the Juarez excursions and recommend them at any other times while indoors.
- El Paso, which was hit hard last fall by COVID, has embraced vaccines and now has a significantly higher vaccination rate and fewer hospitalizations than the rest of the state. The situation in El Paso is simply not the same as what you are reading in the news about Texas.
- With our policies requiring vaccination or testing, you will be in a group that is entirely different from the Texas public at large.
We very recently changed the date of the IFBC from October 2021 to March 17 – 20, 2022. This was not a response to our concerns about keeping participants safe. Instead, it was by request of our outstanding partners, Visit El Paso, who wish to have all of you attending their city without concerns from the peaking Delta variant.
We were extremely heartened that every single individual who showed up to the Wine Media Conference was vaccinated. We were thrilled there was no known community transmission of COVID. Let’s do this again at IFBC22.