By Kirk Petersen
The presiding officers of the 80th General Convention have announced specific COVID-prevention protocols for all persons attending the July 8-11 meeting in Baltimore. Attendees will be required to:
- Show proof of full vaccination, or submit a medical exemption in advance;
- Wear N95, KN95, KF94 or medical procedure masks at all times indoors, in the convention center, and common areas of hotels;
- Self-administer rapid COVID tests before leaving home, upon checking in to hotels in Baltimore, and on each morning of convention.
Each attendee will be provided with five rapid tests when they pick up their badges, and masks will be made available to anyone who needs them.
The requirements were announced May 26 by Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry and President of the House of Deputies Gay Clark Jennings. The rules are not technically final — but don’t expect them to change. The officers wrote that they had accepted the recommendations of the General Convention Design Group, “and we are confident that our colleagues on both the Joint Standing Committee on Planning and Arrangements and the Executive Council will receive them favorably. Those groups will both convene on June 7, which will make it possible for us to finalize the new plan for General Convention.” Nobody on either group has publicly expressed any opposition to any of the changes that have been discussed.
Church leadership announced May 11 that the scheduled July 7-14 convention would be dramatically scaled back, after eight of the 60 people in attendance tested positive after an Executive Council meeting in Puerto Rico. A 15-member Design Group quickly began considering all of the complicated specifics. The Design Group is expected to conclude their work by May 31.
“As COVID-19 rates continue to increase both in Baltimore and across the United States, please keep praying for all those who are sick and those who have died,” the presiding officers wrote. A chart nearby shows the rise in newly reported cases over the last 30 days in Baltimore County, Maryland.
The Living Church is collecting all of its coverage related to convention on an 80th General Convention homepage, to serve as a resource for bishops, deputies, and others planning to attend.