Covid-19 Reopening & FAQ
Populace of Atenveldt, The Crowns and Heirs salute you and hope these letters find you well.
While we are all eager to reopen and begin to meet in person, we have been given some strict guidelines to follow and based on these additional guidelines, the Crowns, heirs and seneschals will not be reopening the existing kingdom calendar for gatherings and events as of June 1st, but are committed to reviewing options and guidelines to determine if, and how, we might be able to reopen beyond that date based on data available at the end of May.
Prior to planning any gathering, we must collect and prepare a significant amount of information specific to local ordinances across these lands (the modern state of Arizona) which are vast and varied from one municipality to the next. In spite of the way the announcement reads, we must submit our plans (to the BoD) prior to any events occurring.
What you can expect, and what we know now:
Reopening Options Timeline: The crowns and heirs will share an outline for reopening options by the end of May, or the seneschals will confirm an extension of closure for the Kingdom of Atenveldt depending on the landscape at that time. We do not have a strong reopening plan currently, and will be able to come up with a firmer plan once we know more from our various locales.
Calendar Considerations: If reopening can occur, all initial events and activities will be administered at the kingdom level, regardless of location. This means that local or baronial events and practices will be considered the same as any event. We will spread any activities or event approvals across locations as much as possible to ensure maximum opportunity to attend.
- Reopening at a local or municipal level independent of Kingdom oversight will only occur if all of our groups are able to meet the requirements of their local municipalities.
- The current calendar is not in force; all events scheduled on the calendar even beyond the proposed reopen date are considered cancelled unless or until we accomplish a balanced, sustainable and enforceable method of event management.
- The goal is a well-balanced calendar with 2 – 3 weeks between events to permit quarantine in the event of illness
- Please continue as many gatherings and officer meetings via Zoom as possible to keep people connected, move functions forward and minimize competition with in-person gathering potential
- Any gatherings scheduled will require publication and formal calendar acknowledgement
Planning and Ideas: We want to hear from you, and as you develop ideas, please know there will be zero tolerance of bending/manipulating or ignoring the rules as set forth by the Board of Directors and local municipal requirements. Whatever guidelines are in place at the time of our reopening, refusing to follow those guidelines will mean immediate expulsion from the event.
- Inappropriate mask wearing or design will be given one opportunity to correct to required standards or will be invited to leave the gathering. This is non-negotiable.
Question: Why are we being so strict? This is an organization of honor and people should be able to make their own decisions about their health.
Answer: If we can’t rely on everyone to agree to and follow our basic requirements; we will be unable to expand our gatherings in size and scope. We must do this well and carefully.
Question: Are we only considering outdoor events?
Answer: At this time, the BoD requirements do insist that all events be outdoors. Our initial plans should include outdoor plans for all events; however, we are open to ideas and suggestions that will allow us to request variances event to event. For any event or gathering that should be indoors, we would need a great explanation as to why the outdoors will not work for that gathering type, the activities pursued and any characteristics unique to that location.
Question: With limits on attendance numbers, how do we do this kingdom-wide; if an event is occurring in a geographic region, would priority registration be given to local residents, or will decisions be based on precedence?
Answer: Local region attendance is definitely a consideration; all initial events would be kingdom managed regardless of location and type of gathering, etc. The required attendees would be counted (royals, landed nobles, applicable officers and coordinators) and the attendee availability would then be negotiated depending on location, event type and whether one has already attended an event in recent weeks. We know that we will be asking those who have early opportunity to attend to make way for those who have not.
Question: Shouldn’t fighter practices and meetings be separate from events? What’s the big deal? Will they compete with other events for space on the calendar?
Answer: Fighter practices, like any meetings or gatherings, represent SCA activities with local and state governments. The challenges we face for a practice are just as many, maybe even more, than a small, informal event. In fact, fighter practices, like any gathering, will require pre-registration and must conform to the same guidelines as events.
Question: Are any restrictions likely to change as people get vaccinated? Any feel for it?
Answer: Guidelines are unlikely to change quickly. The goal is to hold steady, determine successes or areas that need more work, then re-evaluate.
Question: Who will be enforcing compliance with the Board directives and requirements?
Answer: We are looking into who and how many folks will be needed to act as COVID Courtesy Officers. These may be people named prior to events, or may be volunteer arrangements made at the time of pre-registration, but please know that we will name them and we have confidence that they will be treated with all due respect. Whomever these gentles may be, they will have the support of the royals and the seneschal’s office at their disposal.
Question: Can we require proof of vaccination, COVID testing or temperature checks to allow attendance? What if people are willing to wear pins or show their cards?
Answer: We cannot record, require or even ask whether people have been vaccinated. In Arizona, health professionals must be qualified even to take a temperature. We can, and will, post public signs insisting that those with symptoms or those feeling ill do not enter. If people wish to wear pins, it would likely make others around them feel more comfortable prior to interaction, but it is not something we can require.
Question: What will we do with walk ups or newcomers? What about loaner gear; are the rules the same as other rules about not sharing like food and drink?
Answer: Right now, we are focused on the pre-registration requirement for attendees. It is safe to assume that if one is not registered for the event, they are precluded from attendance. Specific to newcomers, there may be opportunity for a chatelaine or gold-key type position to manage opportunities as they arise. Loaner gear, at this time, is considered under the sharing rules, and thus not permitted. We will be happy to review ideas and options to consider when making our event planning proposals.
Question: What are the event and gathering priorities for Reopening Phase I?
Answer: While many imagine that Coronation is the highest priority, the crowns and heirs have been working together to ensure that this event can be attended by as many as possible to witness the three peerages scheduled for that event, in addition to the celebration of Their Royal Highnesses ascension. It may also seem that fighter practice, scribal meetings and the like are our best option, though these gatherings create the same challenges as coronation making them just as complex to coordinate and schedule. It has been suggested and well received that our first gatherings be similar to our society’s first events: A simple get-together. Our first plans and requests for scheduling, with or without variances, will likely be an opportunity for a purely social gathering that allows us to try on our garb, spend some time together, and celebrate our opportunity to be in the same location doing what we love.
Estrella War FAQ
Question: What’s happening with Estrella; when will we know whether it is happening?
Answer: Knowing that Estrella is so critical to the kingdom, culturally, emotionally and financially for so many, we have every hope that this event will still occur in 2021. We have deposits and contractual obligations that limit our timelines and prevent us from pushing this decision out too far in the future. We are committed to making decisions about Estrella by June 15. This allows us to cancel, if we must, without losing funds.
Question: Estrella planning/managing how is that happening while there are no formal gatherings?
Answer: Currently, our required management of the movement from Schnepf Farm to the Country Thunder site in Florence has been largely opted in with managed (paid) professionals, heightened scheduling discussions, very small groups and careful management. You will note that we have not had open calls for volunteers during this transition, nor do we expect to engage in open calls or large gatherings.
Question: If Estrella doesn’t happen in November, could it happen in February of 2022?
Answer: If we have to cancel and move it, it would likely be Fall of 2022 based on limited site availability and other calendar obligations across the Known World, but never say never. We will always seek options to make it happen and the Estrella Staff has proven themselves to be thoughtful, flexible and ever vigilant with regard to opportunities for a successful Estrella War. For now, we still all hope that stars align and the SCA, the site and the town are all confirmed that we can entertain several thousand people camping together, as well as numbers from health organizations confirming that these types of gatherings are not the impetus for illness spikes, which would allow us to confidently proceed with the event.
While there were many other fantastic questions ranging from interpretations of the requirements to managing loaner gear and even expired authorization management, we have additional information to gather before providing answers. This will not be the last information you receive! There will be on-going meetings scheduled with a variety of work groups where we will address as many of your questions as possible, with the intention of finding lasting and consistent solutions.
The landed nobility has agreed to the task of researching the local ordinances and sites in their areas so that we might generate an abbreviated version of the calendar in the right places and times. They have committed to sharing these details with us by Mid-May or sooner. Combining these details with the updated information provided by health organizations and the BoD at that time will allow us to quickly confirm if a reopening will be acceptable.
Thank you for taking time out of your weekend to understand where we are heading. We want to be careful. We are very fortunate to have the groups that we do and it has been heart touching that we have been so diligent that our losses, though heavy on our minds, have been few in number.
We will be generating surveys which will come out soon. Please keep an eye out for them and share with other interested parties! As information becomes available, we will roll it out as quickly as possible. We must ensure thoughtful process is applied at every phase rather than constant change in all directions. We all appreciate your attendance and assure you that you will hear from us soon.