Local officials prepare for July 26-31 fair and wade through state guidelines

Staff Reports Posted 17 May 2021 at 4:04 pm

No masks needed for vaccinated people; social distancing should be followed for those without shot

Photos by Tom Rivers: Lyric Wallenda, a seventh-generation circus performer with the Wallenda family, twirls upside down as part of a show from Circus Incredible, which performed at the Orleans County 4-H Fair for the first time in July 2019.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced additional guidance for county fairs and local festivals throughout New York, but the local fair officials are waiting to review the details to see how it will affect the Orleans County 4-H Fair.

Last year’s fair was cancelled due to the Covid-19 restrictions. This year’s fair will go on – but how it will look is up in the air.

“The governor’s announcement today means we can begin to dig into properly preparing for the fair from July 26-31,” said Robert Batt, executive director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Orleans County, which runs the annual fair. “We’ll be working in the next few days to better understand the full guidance and what it will look like in practice when made available.”

Local governments will permit county fairs and local festivals and consider Covid-19 health guidelines this year, Cuomo said in a news release.

State Department of Health approval will be required for events with over 5,000 expected attendees, consistent with existing review process. The Orleans County 4-H Fair typically draws 25,000 to 30,000 people over six days.

County fairs and local festivals must ensure that the total number of attendees is limited so that 6 feet of distance can be maintained between individuals who are not members of the same party, unless all attendees present proof of full vaccination status, Cuomo said.

Fairs and festivals may require masks for all attendees, and per CDC guidance masks are required for unvaccinated attendees in certain settings, and indoors where vaccination status is unknown.

“Fairs and festivals are huge economic generators for communities across the state, and last year they were all put on hold due to the Covid pandemic,” Cuomo said. “This new guidance will allow our county fairs and local festivals to open at the greatest capacity possible so they can remain economically viable, while still ensuring public health and safety.”

These 4-H’ers in the grand master showmen competition lead llamas in the show ring on July 26, 2019.

The state’s industry-specific guidance must be followed for the applicable activities and attractions present at any fair or festival, such as amusement and family entertainment, food and beverage service, performing arts and entertainment, Cuomo said.

In addition to capacity limits, social distancing and any mask requirements, the Governor’s Office said county fairs and local festivals should consider the following as they plan for this year’s festivities:

  • Attendee Contact Information: Fairs and festivals should encourage at least one attendee from each party to sign in during ticketing, or before or immediately upon entering the event space, providing their name, address and phone number for use in potential contact tracing efforts.
  • Health Screening: Fairs and festivals must implement health screening for all individuals including questions on any Covid-19 symptoms, close contacts, recent positive Covid-19 test result, and compliance with state’s travel advisory. Screening may be performed via signage, at ticket purchase, by e-mail/website, by telephone, or by electronic survey before individuals enter the event space.
  • Hand Hygiene: Fairs and festivals must provide hand washing stations or hand sanitizing supplies for common areas and areas where hand washing facilities may not be available or practical.
  • Cleaning and Disinfection: Fairs and festivals must regularly clean and disinfect, focusing on high-traffic areas, such as restrooms, and frequently touched surfaces, such as service counters and seats.
  • Communication: Fairs and festivals must post signage informing attendees of health precautions (e.g., social distancing, masks, hand hygiene) and distance markers indicating six-foot spaces in areas where lines form or people congregate, unless all attendees are fully vaccinated.
  • Applicable Guidance: Fairs and festivals should consult the state’s guidance for their specific activities and attractions, such as performing arts and entertainment, amusement and family entertainment, food and beverage service, retail and market service, agricultural activities and sports and recreation.