As the economy slowly begins to reopen, the events industry is faced with a complex issue: can we safely hold events again? According to the latest data about coronavirus, prolonged contact in an enclosed space with an infected person, especially if talking is involved, is one of the most high-risk activities for contracting the virus. When tracing the spread of coronavirus, weddings and special events were responsible for 10% of initial transmission. The wedding industry is a $74 billion industry employing over 400,000 vendors and small businesses from florists to photographers to caterers and DJs. Current research says the economy is looking at a three to five year recovery period but events cannot wait that long to resume, weddings especially. Vendors like event planners, florists, and event staffing companies are closing their doors every day and having to come up with unique solutions to remain in business now. Coming up with a COVID complaint wedding option is the only solution to save thousands of jobs.
What’s the Risk?
Any environment that is enclosed with recycled air and a large number of people is a high transmission risk. According to biologist, Erin Bromage, “Infection could occur, through 1000 infectious viral particles you receive in one breath or from one eye-rub, or 100 viral particles inhaled with each breath over 10 breaths, or 10 viral particles with 100 breaths.” The prolonged exposure to people, speaking, and physical contact common in most weddings make this an extremely high risk environment. This is because merely exhaling releases a small volume of infected droplets that can become aerosolized, and according to Bromage, “speaking increases the release of respiratory droplets about 10 fold.” If an infected person were speaking for about five minutes, it would be enough to reach the minimum viral dose required for infection. Therefore, social distancing alone is not enough to make attending a wedding safe if in an enclosed area like a church. We have to find a way to have COVID compliant weddings. This would include a rigorous cleaning and sanitation schedule.