ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Weddings across New York State can now expand to 150 guests or 50% of a venue’s capacity. These larger weddings will feature numerous COVID-19 regulations, including mandatory testing.
“We’re not necessarily popping bottles of champagne over here because it’s March 15th, but we’re actually sharpening our pencils and figuring out what we need to do to make sure everyone feels safe,” says Katie O’Malley Maloney, owner and operator of Katie O’Events.
O’Malley Maloney is cautiously optimistic when it comes to the state’s new guidance on increased wedding capacity.
“It is a move in the right direction, however the guidelines, the restrictions, the uncertainty, to be quite honest, of the specifics of guidelines and execution of the rules is very challenging for our industry right now,” she said.
Guidelines include mask-wearing when not eating or drinking and socially distant dancing. For weddings with over 50 people, venues need to alert their local health department, have each guest sign-in for contact tracing and ensure everyone has tested negative for the virus.
“Everything that goes into place that can help make people feel more comfortable, make the event feel less unsafe, I guess, for a lot of people, and that’s for everyone’s different comfortability. I think anything that can be done is great,” O’Malley Maloney said.
To make these larger events more possible, the state has launched the NY Forward Rapid Test Program. The program hopes to increase the availability of rapid testing for New Yorkers, providing these tests for $30 or less.
Testing is available in numerous locations statewide, including Quest Diagnostics in Albany.
“COVID-19 testing will continue to play a significant role in clinical care and pandemic response for the foreseeable future. However, we’re moving from primarily clinical uses to increased testing for “Return-to-Life”. Antigen testing complements gold-standard PCR, and we plan to extend testing with high-quality antigen testing in certain areas such as the Capital Region. Quality matters, and we are committed to offering testing that meets our high standards.”Quest Diagnostics
O’Malley Maloney says she has some of these larger events planned in the coming months.