Additional Proposed In-Person Event Guidelines Need to Specify Mask Type

The WordPress.org Community deputies have proposed additional guidelines for in-person WordPress events. The safety measures that have been added include the following:

  • Mandatory masks for all attendees (even in regions that do not have a mask mandate at this time). 
  • More prominent messaging in WordCamp websites, emails, and social media posts about COVID-19 safety guidelines.
  • Mandatory temperature checks for all attendees at the event (if permitted by local authorities).
  • Accessible hand sanitizing stations in the venue.
  • Maintaining social distancing practices during the event (Larger meeting rooms and seating arrangements with good spacing can be a good way to implement this).
  • Having a plan for contact tracing measures in case of infections (can be done using WordCamp registration data, meetups are a bit tricker).

These guidelines are in addition to any existing local laws for events. While I think these do a good job at making events safer, what I noticed is that the type of mask was not specified. Based on research, we know that cloth masks simply don’t cut it anymore when it comes to limiting exposure and spread of the Omicron variant. Therefore, I think the guidelines need to include a recommendation for attendees to wear N95, KN95, or equivalent masks.

Personally, I don’t think there is a safe way to host in-person events with how easy Omicron spreads. In-person WordPress events can be made safer, but the risk can not be eliminated. But it’s up to organizers and attendees to measure that risk and decide for themselves on whether to organize/attend or not.

If branded masks are not a swag item at WordCamps this year, I’ll be left scratching my head.

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