Business as usual?

By Jessica Freni

Photos Submitted by Kelly Schur, Amie McLaughlin & Julie Buss

This week the CDC surprisingly and rather drastically revived their COVID-19 protocol recommendations, effectively eliminating state restrictions in most or all areas in the coming weeks.  Even highly restricted states, like Massachusetts, announced an upcoming end to the declared State of Emergency and mask mandate by the end of the month. With over 276M vaccinations to date in the US, how and when will shows and other AKC events be impacted?

AKC has not yet revised or issued a formal statement on Covid protocols beyond an undated release on their official website,

“The American Kennel Club continues to encourage each of its 5,000 clubs to adhere to federal, state and local restrictions pertaining to minimizing the spread of COVID-19.  As states gradually begin to reopen, we strongly urge clubs to follow every regulation for large gatherings. We support each club’s informed decision to reschedule, postpone or cancel their respective events, as well as support clubs ready to hold events in municipalities that are open and permit gatherings. In an ongoing effort to assist event chairs and organizers, the Sports and Events Department has been working on suggested guidelines for best health practices to be used when the resumption of our sports is possible, as well as assisting events with date checks, Judges assignments, conflicts, etc. The guidelines will be made available in the coming weeks.

Clubs with events already scheduled or imminent seem to be staying the course with restrictions and procedures already put forth in premiums and judging programs, which do include COVID release forms and or mask requirements. The sudden changes in CDC recommendations, especially for outdoor venues, has left Clubs scrambling with questions and uncertainty while they wait for state/local guidelines and AKC directives. Some exhibitors have voiced they intend to continue with masks for the foreseeable future, even if it is optional or not mandatory.

 Westminster will be held outdoors next month in NY, where as of Wednesday, most tri-state restrictions were lifted, though some mask requirements may remain and vary by municipality. Last official statement from WKC was issued May 6th stating,

“Consistent with the Club’s premium list, Westminster’s initial requirements were and continue to be New York State requirements for an outdoor event, with the caveat that as conditions and/or requirements evolved, they would be “finalized and communicated in advance and during the show.” The Club will continue to monitor the conditions and requirements of the State officials, as is our agreement in obtaining permission to host the event in New York.”

full statement/information available here:

Whether mask requirements and entry limits are going to linger or if things will return to pre-COVID “business as usual” remains to be seen. One of the nice changes,  that hopefully remain going forward, are the ease and convenience of entry/exit directionals for rings and generous spacing between exhibitors. Will the changing climate surrounding COVID impact your show plans this summer? Will you ditch the mask, opt for outdoor shows, cut back on showing entirely or opt to continue masking up even if the requirement to do so is lifted?