PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The CDC's updated guidance on mask-wearing could make it easier for outdoor festivals to return in some parts of the Valley, but mask mandates and COVID-19 protocols in some cities are leaving event producers waiting for the green light. The CDC said Tuesday that fully vaccinated people can safely go outside without masks as long as they avoid crowds.
"I still believe masks are important," says David Tyda of Phx Fest. "Spread of the virus is holding us back from a safe return."
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday issued new guidance on outdoor mask use for fully vaccinated Americans.
Tyda could easily take his pizza festival to the next town over to avoid mask mandates and COVID-19 safety measures, but he enjoys hosting his events in downtown Phoenix's Margaret T. Hance Park. He's planning for a potential fall return if COVID-19 infections continue to go down. "I believe that food festivals should be among some of the first large-scale festivals to come back," says Tyda. "I feel like our events are just safer."
Earlier this year, Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order that said event organizers no longer have to prove COVID-19 mitigation measures to get approval for an event. Despite that, the City of Phoenix held onto its mask mandate and still requires event producers to submit a COVID-19 safety plan before obtaining a special event permit.
Arizona's Family asked Mayor Kate Gallego if the updated CDC guidance on mask-wearing has her rethinking events out in the open. Her office responded with this statement:
"From the start, the Mayor has been following guidance from CDC and other experts. As long as people mask indoors, and whenever they're in a large crowd, they will be consistent with that guidance."
Like Phoenix, the City of Tempe retained its COVID-19 protocols for events, including adherence to a mask mandate. Mayor Corey Woods said Tuesday the updated CDC guidelines "highlight the ability for individuals who have been fully vaccinated to safely participate in more activities," and said the announcement was "excellent news." Woods said he has asked staff to come up with criteria for when it is safe to drop the mask mandate.
For now, Tyda is diversifying. He's working on opening a tequila bar called Barcoa, and he expects it to be up and running before his festivals return.
"We'll just have to see how that all shakes out," says Tyda. "I'm still going after that dream as best I can."