- EDITOR'S NOTE: This article appears in the special section for the 81st Azalea Festival published by the Curry Coastal Pilot. It is re-published here to provide information about plans for managing risk of COVID-19 during the event, which was rescheduled fron its traditional Memorial Day weekend timing because of the pandemic. The article has been updated to include the outdoor masking mandate of Oregon Gov Kate Brown, which took place after the special section went to print.
Many people have asked how the 81st Azalea Festival can be held during the COVID-19 pandemic, since so many activities have been canceled. Here is background that helps answer this question:
Curry County met the criteria for entering Phase 2 of “Reopening Oregon” on June 5.
Phase 2 relaxed some of the restrictions put in place beginning in March 2020 and under Phase 1 of reopening following the shutdown related to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.
The modified Azalea Festival is allowed under guidelines that allow “social, civic, and faith-based gatherings” to meet in “larger, physically-distanced groups.”
Allowing "small local gatherings that preserve community cohesion and cultural practices" was among Gov. Kate Brown's stated reasons for approving Phase 2 for Curry and other Oregon counties that met the criteria.
Many activities traditionally associated with the Azalea Festival had to be canceled, including the art show, quilt show, book sale, kids fishing pond, plant sale and flower show, car show, alumni get-together, Pioneer Citizen reception and other festivities and entertainment.
Those activities scheduled for the modified festival are all outdoors and organizers report taking steps to foster social-distancing and planning to post many signs reminding participants of the importance of social distancing, hand-washing, and wearing a face mask when in public indoors or when social-distancing isn't possible. (Masking outdoors when people can't stay 6-feet apart was good advice; effective July 15, it is also mandated by Oregon's governor.)
And, of course, anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 or other illness should stay home and those with underlying health issues should follow medical advice about whether it is appropriate to participate in any of the festival activities.