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Welcome Back In-Person Events! Key Updates for Popular Conference Locations

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Let’s face it: Zoom meetings and virtual conferences have their benefits, but they’re not the same as an in-person conference. And with states starting to relax – or rescind entirely – their lockdown restrictions and return thanks to the success of the Coronavirus vaccine rollout, many associations will be able to once again hold in-person events later this year.

But will your dream conference locale be available for your annual event this fall? Here’s a quick update on where some popular conference locations are in their reopening process:

Orlando

Anyone looking to book a conference in Orlando – or anywhere in the Sunshine State, for that matter – is in luck. Florida was among the first states to rescind its lockdown last year, and is open at 100% capacity statewide without any mask mandates. Local governments are also prohibited from issuing their own restrictions.

That said, private businesses (such as hotel chains) can still impose their own on-site restrictions so you’ll need to keep that in mind when selecting your venue.

General Update (5/14): With the CDC changing its guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals, expect private businesses to begin rolling back their mask mandates in the near future. 

Las Vegas

The pandemic was devastating to the Las Vegas economy, which is heavily reliant upon the tourism and entertainment industry for its survival. Fortunately for Sin City, the state of Nevada is planning to reopen at full capacity on June 1st, meaning associations shouldn’t have an issue booking summer or fall events in Vegas. Hotels have already been open on the strip for months, while several casinos have even been allowed to remove the plexiglass dividers at the tables and buffet restaurants and nightly shows have announced reopening dates.

Washington, D.C. 

The nation’s capital has always been a popular area for association events, particularly when there’s an advocacy component attached to it.

Despite being heavily locked down for much of the pandemic, the D.C. metro area plans to be open for business come summer. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced just this week that the city will open at 100% capacity by June 11th, while neighboring Virginia is set to tentatively reach that mark a few days later on the 15th. Both locales are expected to still have a mask mandate in place, however. Neighboring Maryland has also recently removed all of its outdoor restrictions – including its outdoor mask mandate. Large venues in the state, including conference halls, can also open at 50% capacity.

UPDATE: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday that the state will begin lifting the remainder of its restrictions (sans the mask mandate) starting this weekend. 

Chicago

Expect conferences to begin returning to the Windy City in the near future as well. Illinois is also planning to reopen at full capacity on June 11th; masks will still be required per CDC guidelines.

That said, events in Chicago proper may have to wait a few more weeks, as Mayor Lori Lightfoot has tentatively scheduled the city’s reopening for Independence Day. Several annual events have already announced their summer dates as well, including the Chicago Auto Show, Lollapalooza, and the Air and Water Show.

San Diego

California is one of the few states that is taking a regional approach to its reopening process, which means that some cities are opening at a faster clip than others.

Unfortunately, San Diego is not one of them. While the state is expected to end its lockdown and reopen at 100% on June 15th  (mask will still be required), local officials in San Diego are not as confident that the “America’s Finest City,” which is still in the state’s “Orange” phase will follow suit.

Cities expected to meet the threshold for reopening in June include Los Angeles and San Francisco – both of which recently progressed to the state’s “Yellow” phase.

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