Weddings, catered events can resume in New York State March 15

Posted at 4:16 PM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 23:33:07-05

NEW YORK (WKBW) — New York State says beginning March 15 weddings and catered events can resume in the state with specific guidance in place.

The state made the announcement on January 29 but released updated guidance Monday which can be found below.

  • Venues are restricted to 50 capacity, with no more than 150 people per event.
  • All patrons must be tested prior to the event.
  • Sign-in with contact information required to assist with potential contact tracing.
  • Venues must notify local health departments of large events, above the social gathering limit, in advance.
  • Masks will be required at all times except when seated and eating or drinking.
  • Ceremonial and socially-distanced dancing allowed under strict guidelines.

Jeremy Urbanski is the co-owner of Marygold Manor in Cheektowaga. He said he's excited about the possility of a normal wedding season retruning.

“Last season was kind of a disaster financially, I don't even know the full figure of what we lost, but being able to do weddings of 150 would be great,” Urbanski said.

Following Monday's announcement, Urbanski still had some questions about testing and contact tracing logistics.

“Sometimes I don’t know the final count of a wedding until a week before, is that enough time," Urbanski said. "When are they testing, is it three days before like it was the Bills game.”

The New York State Department of Health tells 7 Eyewitness News venues are responsible for making sure everyone shows a negative COVID-19 test. A spokesperson for the department said either the venue or the patron can arrange testing logistics and costs for guests.

As highlighted by the Governor and proven through the Buffalo Bills demonstration games, advance testing for COVID-19 is a smart and effective way for New Yorkers to participate in congregate activities while still abiding by all health and safety protocols, such as wearing a mask and maintaining appropriate social distancing. For in-person and catered events, the venues are responsible for ensuring that patrons present a valid negative COVID-19 diagnostic test result before they participate in the event. Under the State's guidance, either party -- either the venue or the patron -- could arrange the logistics or costs of testing for participants, but it is incumbent upon the venue to check for proof of negative result beforehand.
Erin Silk, NYSDOH spokesperson

7 Eyewitness asked the Erie County Department of Health how much notice a venue needs to give it before hosting an event, a spokesperson for the department said it hasn't received additional guidance from the state following Monday's announcement, and will share details with permitted facilities and interested parties when the information is available.

“Just knowing that something can happen and that we can do testing or whatever it may be just to be able to have our day is making us feel more hopeful about it.”

High school sweathearts Jessica Bakkila and Michael Lewandowski were supposed to get married last May, and then in September.

Everything just keeps getting pushed back.”

“Yeah you just start to lose hope after a while with changing it and then changing it again.”

Their June 4th wedding is on. The couple said hearing the new guidelines was the most hopeful they've been throughout the process.

“Having that validation that something can happen, and that we can do testing or whatever it may be, just to be able to have our day is what's making us feel more hopeful about it,” Bakkila said.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state is developing more rapid testing capacity across the state and developing an app that provides your results to help with the need for testing for these events.

On Friday, 11 initial rapid COVID-19 testing sites opened in New York City with the capacity to conduct 5,000 rapid COVID-19 tests per day, with more expected to open across New York State in the coming weeks.