The folks at AirVenture have a message to the faithful, which as far as we can tell is every pilot who can possibly attend. That is, AirVenture planning is progressing “full speed ahead’ and also that the Covid protocols planned for the event are subject to change, because change is what this thing has been all about.
Overall, that’s good news. Here’s why.
The plan for OSH, announced last month, was to have an AirVenture that was designed to cut down or eliminate altogether large, close gatherings of people, so there would be reduced attendance at events that are normally standing room only, like evenings at Theater in The Woods and a greatly reduced footprint in the exhibit halls, among other changes designed to help maintain good social distancing. EAA also said it had no plans to require verification of vaccination.
What about this all has changed? To our knowledge, nothing. But in a chat with EAA officials, the message is quite clear that things might change between now and then based on the fact that the pandemic is, one, unpredictable and, two, also somewhat predictable.
It would be bad, of course, if our current progress against Covid-19 suffered a reversal, or a few. If that happens, well, any major event holder would have to reconsider plans. And Oshkosh is huge.
So EAA will be coming out with a COVID-19 protocols site soon, and it will be a living document, so as the situation warrants, EAA will be able to adjust its protocols accordingly.
In case you missed, it from our earlier article on this subject, here are the current protocols, as published way back on February 4, 2021. And this is directly from EAA:
- Masks will be strongly recommended if you are unable to social distance (roughly 6 feet or 2 meters).
- Proof of COVID vaccine will not be required to attend.
- International visitation is dependent on current international travel regulations and mandates in the U.S. and individual countries of residence.
- Increased physical distancing will be encouraged in all areas.
- EAA is adding significant numbers of sanitizing facilities and working with industry-leading companies for continual disinfection throughout the grounds.
- Theater in The Woods, forums pavilions, and other outdoor venues will operate with reduced seating capacity, with social distancing opportunities on the open grounds at that location.
- There will be fewer exhibitors in each indoor exhibit building, creating more walkways and separation between exhibitors. Additional venues on the grounds are being re-purposed to accommodate indoor exhibitors that are moved this year.
- Wherever possible, ventilation will be increased in tents and indoor facilities.
- Several annual events where physical distancing is not possible will not be held this year, including the Monday night concert; the Young Eagles, EAA Lifetime Member, and International Visitors dinners; the Runway 5K run/walk; and large corporate events and receptions.
- High-demand forums and presentations will be scheduled more than once to accommodate demand while allowing for distancing.
These things are subject to change.
Indeed, on one side of the coin, a big part of this move is likely that EAA is increasingly optimistic about the July event being a lot more normal that it had previously thought. So those guidelines issued in February, well, some or all of those protocols might be loosened. Which sounds great to us. Again, that’s our best guess and not EAA’s message, though we’re hopeful it will be.
That’s because things are looking up. An increasing number of people are being vaccinated, and President Biden in his speech last night directed all states to open up vaccination availability to all of their citizens by May 1st. So it’s a pretty good bet that a lot of attendees at OSH will be vaccinated, which will make the event safer for them, regardless of what it looks like, and safer for everyone else, as well. While much of what the President said was good news, his timeframe for small, private gatherings of July 4th, seems on the conservative side. Oshkosh, by the way, less than three weeks later.
The protocols site, EAA.org/covid, is not yet up, but we’ll update this story when it is with a link and notes on significant changes to the guidelines. So, stay tuned!