Greetings, Tyger Populace,
I want to apologize again to the populace. I am sorry that the decisions I made caused upset. I hope that the coming information will help to begin to mend your faith in me and that we can all step together to find a middle ground.
To that end, I would like to share the Kingdom’s current response to COVID with you. I would ask that you please read all the way through, then re-read, as there will be a lot of information here, and there is no good way for me to break it up. I have provided a Highlights section here, so you know what to expect.
- New Kingdom-Wide Variance – A new variance which applies to the entire Kingdom goes into effect immediately, requiring indoor masking at a specific threshold.
- Status of Variances – A review of existing variances and how they are impacted by the new Kingdom-Wide Variance.
- Requesting New Variances – An overview of how to request a variance going forward.
- Personal Responsibility and Illnesses – Reminders about masking, illness and preparedness.
- Masking and Distancing – N95s/KN95s will be supplied for events at the request of the Event Steward and reminders about asking for consent.
- Commitment to Vigilance – A plan for continued monitoring of the state of the Kingdom.
New Kingdom-Wide Variance
A Kingdom-wide variance has been approved by the Society Seneschal to go into effect immediately and will end on March 1, 2023. It is as follows:
Indoor Masking for all persons age 2 and over will be required at all official SCA Activities (events, practices, meetings, etc.) in the United States portion of the East Kingdom, under the following condition:
When the county where the activity is located reaches a status of HIGH on the CDC Community Levels map found here:
This is determined by the data on the Thursday just prior to the activity.
If state or local regulations are more restrictive, those measures are to be followed.
For the Canadian provinces in Tir Mara, provincial and local guidance will be followed.
This variance is in effect immediately and will end on March 1, 2023.
An official practice will be held on Tuesday, January 3, 2023 in Springfield, MA. If, on the Thursday prior, December 29, 2022, the Community Level in Hampden County, MA is listed as HIGH according to the map above, then masks will be required at the practice on January 3, 2023.
An event will be held in Bangor, ME on Saturday, January 21, 2023. On the Thursday prior, January 19, 2023, the Community Level in Penobscot County, ME is listed as LOW according to the map above. As such, masks will not be required.
An event will be held in Montreal, Quebec on Saturday, February 4, 2023. On January 12, 2023, the local government issued a mask mandate requiring indoor masking due to an increase in cases. Masks will be required at the event on February 4, 2023.
(Variance wording stand-alone found here: https://seneschal.eastkingdom.org/new-kingdom-wide-variance-effective-11-11-2022/)
As the Kingdom has followed the CDC guidance from the beginning of the pandemic, we will continue to do so.
The CDC has recommended the use of the Community Levels map to determine action as it addresses the impact of COVID19 on communities. The chart below is taken directly from the CDC website and shows how the Community Levels are calculated.
(Chart pulled from CDC website on 11/10/2022)
The CDC has recommendations based on these levels, and they can be located here:
Status of Variances
- There are a few variances I approved for local practices and gatherings through November 30, 2022. Those will remain in effect through November 30, 2022 and then be replaced by the above Kingdom-wide variance.
- There are a couple of variances I denied, based on the above CDC map at the time of decision. As the Kingdom-wide Variance is in effect immediately, should the county in question fall into the HIGH category on the Thursday prior, then masks will be required at the event.
As an example, this weekend is St. Eligius in New Haven, CT. New Haven is in New Haven County.
New Haven County’s current Community Level is MEDIUM. As such, masks will not be required at the event.
- There are a few variances which are still “in the wings” so-to-speak. No decision has been made on them as of yet. I will be formally denying those variances in favor of the Kingdom-wide Variance, as all of those requests have come in for after December 1, 2022. I will be sending those notifications out after this has been posted.
Requesting New Variances
Should you wish to request a variance to alter the Kingdom-wide variance (or any variance for that matter), there are a few steps which must be taken.
- The request must come from the branch Seneschal. And specifically, must come from the seneschal@GROUPNAME.eastkingdom.org email address.
- It must be specific in nature and have a metric and/or reasons for an alteration.
- Confirmation that the request has been received will be made in 48 hours and provide a decision timeline.
- If I agree with the variance request, I will send it to the Society Seneschal for review.
- If I do not agree with the variance request, I will notify the branch Seneschal.
- Should you wish to appeal my decision, the branch Seneschal would then email the Society Seneschal to request review.
If you would like to have a conversation with me regarding this process, or have specific questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Personal Responsibility and Illness
I want to stress the importance of taking care of yourself, your health (mental and physical), and those of your loved ones.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of illness, regardless if they are COVID-related or not, please do not attend the event/practice/gathering. If you are playing the “allergies or cold” game, please assume cold and do not attend the event.
If you test positive for COVID, please do not attend any event/gathering for 10 days, or when you have had 2 negative home tests 48 hours apart. The Kingdom has to rely on your honor for this, as we will not be allowed to ask for proof. Please choose to do the right thing.
In addition, all members of the populace should be prepared to mask at events and gatherings.
Masking and Distancing
With all that said, I recognize there is always more we can do to protect each other while also respecting each other.
To this end, I ask that the people of the East begin to reframe how they interact with each other. Do not assume close contact is acceptable for everyone. Please ask before entering someone’s personal space. Remember just because you have received permission once, does not mean you always have permission. Similarly, if you are asked to mask when approaching someone, please do so. Consent is absolutely vital in our Society, and we should be making every effort to allow people that right.
I strongly encourage people to mask when possible, with the best masks they have access to. The CDC, along with other sources, advise the best masks available are N95s or KN95s.
As such, with the support of the Crown and Heirs, I will make N95/KN95 masks available for any event attendees between this announcement and the end of the variance, March 1, 2023.
Masks will be available for any event that has a listing on the East Kingdom Event Calendar and will be shipped directly to someone who will be attending.
To request masks for your event, the event steward just needs to complete the form linked here: https://forms.gle/8WoRJq2GUHHsetAk9
(If there is a problem with the form, please email me as soon as you are able, and I’ll get it fixed!)
I have had several people ask if they can put verbiage out recommending masking at events. The short answer to that is “Absolutely!” I encourage groups to continue to promote masking. This can include signs at events, language in event listings, and setting an example by wearing them.
Commitment to Vigilance
I will be routinely checking the CDC website and keeping an eye on the state of the Kingdom and the COVID levels. Should things in the Kingdom change, I will review our next steps appropriately and act with the best interest of the Kingdom as a whole.
I will be reviewing the existing variance in mid February 2023.
I hope you were able to get through all of that, and thank you for sticking with me. I am thankful for each and every voice in our Kingdom, and hope with the above measures in place we are able to come together again and enjoy our hobby.
Magistra Audrye Beneyt
East Kingdom Seneschal