Local event planners organize to lobby state to open private events
–Wedding planners, caterers, event suppliers, event planners and other private event services have suffered business losses along with most California businesses. Unlike most other businesses, California private event planners and related businesses don’t have a definitive industry sector in the State of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy and this has created critical delays in reopening businesses that support private events.
The state has defined broad industry sectors that could include private events, such as Conference Centers and Gatherings and Special Events, which are not yet allowed to open. Leon Castillo, co-owner of San Luis Obispo’s Popolo Catering, said the restrictions on these industry sectors overlook “the very unique services offered by the private event businesses.” These services include catering, DJs, tent and furnishing suppliers and wedding and other private event planners.
“We joined CAPE (California Association for Private Events),” said Castillo “because it’s important to have a voice in decisions that affect our business.” When the state started closing food service businesses due to COVID-19, Popolo Catering reinvented its catering services by offering delivery and curbside service for some of the company’s most popular meals. Castillo, who spent 44 days in the hospital after contracting COVID-19, said he believes there are solutions to everything, including allowing event services to open safely and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“I am, obviously, very aware of how serious this disease is, but I also know there are many ways event services can operate and still keep people safe.” Some of the ideas Castillo mentioned include allowing DJs to work behind a plexiglass shield, holding weddings with social distancing so friends and family can attend, holding parties and celebrations outside and following the same food service protocols that restaurants follow.
Not every event service business can reinvent themselves. Beau Kramer, co-owner of Kramer Events, and one of the driving forces behind the newly formed local group San Luis Obispo County Event Coalition, said “We haven’t worked since March because of the closures.” Just because there are restrictions on people having gatherings and holding private events doesn’t mean these events are not happening. Kramer said they are taking place and without the appropriate protocols such as masks and social distancing being followed, “and people are getting infected.” It only makes sense that establishing safe opening protocols for private events is going to ensure safe events, help local businesses and the local economy.
Kramer said CAPE is conducting a membership drive, and encourages event service businesses to join. “We are in the process of getting a lobbyist on board and developing a game plan.” A CAPE sponsored Walk for Weddings is being held in Sacramento on Tue, Oct 13 to help bring attention to wedding services statewide. Weddings are one of the biggest contributors to the San Luis Obispo County economy, said Kramer. It’s not just the wedding ceremony, it’s all the support services such as catering, weekend lodgings for wedding guests, entertainment, meals, shopping, wine tasting and wine purchases and a variety of other spending patterns that spread money into the local economy. “We are working with Visit SLO Cal to develop some statistics about the economics weddings and other private events contribute to the county’s economy.”
For more information about local, grassroots efforts in support of private events, visit the San Luis Obispo County Event Coalition. Visit CAPE for more information about support activities at the state level or to become a member.
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