The first car wash show in more than a year is almost upon us. It’s perhaps fitting that the Southwest Car Wash Association Convention and Expo, having been the last show to take place, has the honor of being the first.
The first post-COVID show? No, that would be a stretch as the pandemic is still very much with us. The first mid-COVID?
No, that, too, does not seem to be a fit. Conditions have changed substantially since the height of this contagion. Does late-mid-COVID come closer to the mark?
What about pre-post-COVID? However we characterize the timing of this event, one thing is certain: It will be different.
The first inkling of how different is the presence of a link to Safety Protocols on the convention page of the association’s website. Here, you can learn of the extraordinary steps being taken by the Fort Worth Convention Center to ensure the safety of visitors — all seven pages worth. While Texas dropped the state’s mask mandate effective March 10, 2021, the city of Fort Worth is continuing prior COVID policies and practices at all its facilities, including the convention center. These policies include requiring the wearing of masks at all times by everyone who “enters the public corridors, concourses, and lobbies” at the center; requiring six-foot distancing in all queuesin these areas; recommending elevator occupancy limited to four people at a time; and asking visitors to keep two steps behind others on the escalators.
The convention center delegates the setting of policies in the exhibit hall, meeting rooms, and leased concourse and lobby areas to the event hosts, i.e., the Southwest Car Wash Association. SCWA strongly recommends masks be worn in the exhibit hall and all meeting areas, though it will not police compliance, stressing the shared responsibility we have for everyone’s safety. Hand-sanitizing facilities will be provided throughout the convention center including the exhibit hall. All registration and food service personnel will wear masks, the latter will also wear gloves. SCWA recommends everyone maintain a social distance of at least three feet in the aisles, while exhibitors are responsible for determining social distancing protocols in their individual booths.
Even your hotel stay will be different. I can’t speak for all hotels in Fort Worth, but at least one convenient to the convention center requires that a face covering be worn in all public areas of the hotel. That applies to both employees and guests. The hotel offers a “contactless arrival experience.” Using the hotel’s app, you can check in, choose your room, access your room with a digital key, and check out using your phone.
Items such as towels and toiletries are available on request and are delivered to the room door in protective packaging.
For many of us, attending the SCWA show will be our first travel experience in many a month. The CDC guidelines for domestic travel, current as of this writing, recommend unvaccinated travelers get tested one to three days before their trip and get tested again three to five days after; self-quarantine upon return for seven days if the test is negative and for 10 days if not tested. Fully vaccinated travelers need neither test nor quarantine. Both unvaccinated and fully vaccinated travelers are advised to wear a mask, maintain a social distance of six feet, avoid crowds, and wash hands often or use hand sanitizer.