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SCA Expo to Require Negative COVID-19 Tests and Masks, But Not Proof of Vaccination

SCA Expo

From the 2019 SCA Expo in Boston. Daily Coffee News photo.

Attendance at the 2021 Specialty Coffee Expo in New Orleans will require a face covering inside the convention center plus proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the previous 72 hours. Proof of vaccination is not currently among the requirements.

In an announcement to its members and show guests today, the Specialty Coffee Association noted that while all of its staff members attending the show are vaccinated, the decision to not require proof of vaccination among guests was due in part to the fact that “many of our visitors come from regions where vaccines are not readily available.”

“We know these are uncertain times, but we continue to work hard to provide a space for the coffee community to gather safely once again,” SCA CEO Yannis Apostolopoulos wrote in the letter. “As always, we are keeping a close eye on developments related to the pandemic and will continue to update our exhibitors and attendees as we get closer to the date of the show.”

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The largest annual gathering of coffee professionals in North America, the SCA Expo prior to the pandemic attracted approximately 14,000 guests and exhibitors in 2019. The event is currently scheduled for Sept. 30-Oct. 3.

In the present surge of the Delta variant of the coronavirus in the United States, the state of Louisiana is now seeing its highest number of daily cases since the pandemic began, with 5,839 new cases reported yesterday, according to New York Times analysis. The state also leads the nation in active cases per 100,000 residents with 126, as of this writing.

While statewide vaccination rates remain among the nation’s lowest — 38% compared to a national average of 50% — vaccination rates in New Orleans and the surrounding Orleans Parish sit at 53%.

In today’s announcement, the SCA noted numerous additional safety measures designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, including an additional day (Wednesday) for booth setup and installation, one-way aisles to reduce congestion, capacity limits for indoor spaces, and increased sanitation requirements for product sampling.

Regarding masks, the group stated: “Per the City of New Orleans latest COVID-19 guidelines, masks are required inside the Expo venue at all times. You may remove your mask when drinking or eating, but please be sure to keep it on before and after consumption.”

Regarding the requirement to present a negative COVID-19 test for admittance, the SCA is currently pointing guests to the city government’s testing resources page, which is maintaining a list of locations by date that are doing COVID-19 testing by walk-in or appointment.

As of this writing, there was no testing site at the Louis Armstrong International Airport or at the main show venue, the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. All the SCA’s Expo-related COVID-19 precautions can be found here.

[Editor’s note: The comments section for this story has been disabled and comments have been removed to prevent the spread of misinformation regarding science and public health.]