Published: Wednesday, May. 5th, 2021
Chicago and Cook County recently announced they would loosen gathering-size restrictions for private events like weddings, receptions, and graduation parties. The announcement comes just in time for couples and wedding professionals planning a second COVID summer wedding season.
The new guidelines increase capacity at indoor venues to 50% (with a maximum of 50 people) and at outdoor venues to 50% (with a maximum of 100 people), which are the current Phase 4 guidelines for the State of Illinois. Previously, Chicago and Cook County had greater restrictions in place than other parts of the state.
Additionally, fully vaccinated people will no longer be counted toward the capacity limits at events -- meaning that gatherings of fully vaccinated people can be larger.
Other guidelines include limits on how many guests can share indoor and outdoor tables, social distancing guidelines for vendors and performers from other guests, and closing areas like dance floors, among other restrictions.
Although still within Phase 4 limits, COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations are currently rising in the Chicago area, delaying a move into to the much anticipated “Bridge Phase”, a transitional phase between Phases 4 and 5. If the area’s COVID numbers stabilize or decline, the capacity limits for private events will increase again in the Bridge Phase, to 250 people at indoor events, and 500 people maximum attendance at outdoor events.
In many areas, vaccination cards or a negative COVID-19 test are required to attend a private gathering, and in areas like Chicago, guests that are fully vaccinated may not be counted toward the capacity limits at venues.
To be fully vaccinated, guests must be 14 days past their first shot of the J&J vaccine, or 14 days past the second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
Each state has its own policy for how recent a negative coronavirus test must be. For example, in New York, everyone on site at a wedding (including wedding officiants and vendors) must have a negative PCR test within 72 hours of the wedding, or a negative rapid test within six hours.
With all of this emphasis on vaccination and testing, wedding officiants may find that the couples they work with have questions about vaccination, and vice versa! Know what to expect:
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