New York State issues updated guidance on weddings, catered events

Posted at 7:38 PM, Feb 24, 2021

NEW YORK (WKBW) — The New York State Department of Health has released additional guidance for hosting events including wedding receptions and catered events.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's office previously released information stating wedding and catered events can begin on March 15, 2021.

According to the new guidance, venues are restricted to half capacity, with no more than 150 people per event. However, guidance states that "social gathering limit is 50 or fewer people in non-residential settings" and local health departments must be notified if a gathering will include more than 50 people. Cluster zones may have lower gathering limits.

Anyone in attendance at an event will be required to provide information for use in potential contract tracing efforts.

Guests, along with venue staff, will be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test ahead of the event. Those who have received a full vaccination may have to show proof.

The guidance states:
"For any event conducted pursuant to this guidance, Responsible Parties must require and ensure all attendees have received a negative diagnostic test result for COVID-19 using a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or other nucleic acid amplification test (NAATs) of comparable analytical sensitivity performance that was performed on a specimen (e.g., swab) collected within 72 hours of the event start time. Responsible Parties may also accept negative test results for COVID-19 from a FDA authorized antigen test performed on a specimen collected within 6 hours of the event start time. All attendees must present proof of the negative diagnostic test result (e.g., mobile application, paper form) to designated employees or event staff prior to, or immediately upon, arrival to the event.

Responsible Parties may offer to perform FDA-authorized antigen testing for attendees to obtain test results of specimens collected within 6 hours of the event on premises; provided, however, such antigen testing must meet all requirements and standards set forth by DOH, including timely and complete reporting of results to the Department’s Electronic Clinical Laboratory Reporting System (ECLRS)."

Social distancing and mask wearing is required except for when with "members of the same immediate party, household or family."

Live entertainment and dancing is permitted at events with specific directives:
"Responsible Parties may permit live music, entertainment (e.g., DJ), and/or dancing within the
following parameters, which will be revisited by the State as the public health condition continues
to change:
▪ Live music performers and other entertainers, particularly if unmasked or playing a wind
instrument, must be separated from attendees by either 12 feet or an appropriate physical
▪ Select attendees – who are designated to the Responsible Parties prior to the event – may
participate in ceremonial dances with members of their immediate party/household/family
(e.g., first dances at a wedding reception) so long as they maintain six feet of separation
from other attendees throughout the dance.
▪ Attendees may dance with only members of their same immediate party/household/family
who are seated at their table in designated and clearly marked areas or zones that are
assigned to them and spaced, at least, six feet apart from any other dancing areas or zones,
and any tables. Ideally, each dancing areas or zones should not be less than 36 square feet.
Attendees must wear face coverings while in their assigned dancing area or zone and cannot
enter, use, or otherwise visit other dancing areas or zones."

To view the full guidance, click here.

The Erie County Department of Health says it has created a web-based form for venues hosting weddings and other large catered events. The form can be used to share event information with ECDOH at least five days prior to the event as required by NYS guidance.

According to ECDOH there will be a system in place to verify the information has been received and reviewed.

"ECDOH public health sanitarians will contact venues, starting with the larger venues in Erie County, to review site plans and on-site safety measures, and answer questions in advance of March 15. Those reviews will continue through the spring. Facilities that would like to schedule a public health sanitarian on-site visit in advance of scheduled events can call (716) 961-6800," a release says.

You can find the web-based form here.