FAQs for 2022 Conference Health & Safety

Why is SWPACA proceeding with an in-person conference for 2022?

The health and safety of our presenters, attendees, and the hotel staff are our number one priority. Bernalillo county, in which Albuquerque is located, has an adult vaccination rate of 79% (as of 1/6/22), and the State of New Mexico has a public health order requiring all individuals age 2 or older to wear a mask in any indoor setting in the state, other than private residences. In addition, we are taking the precautions outlined below to ensure the safest environment for all participants. Despite these precautions, we understand the hesitancy to travel, especially internationally, and attend large gatherings as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has emerged.

We also understand that much remains uncertain regarding personal and academic budgets; local, national, and international restrictions on travel and group meetings; quarantine requirements; and other factors. We continue to monitor this. Because we are contractually obligated to the Hyatt, breaking this contract by cancelling the conference or moving it online will seriously jeopardize our ability to offer any future conferences. Only in the event of a force majeure, an unavoidable circumstance that makes it impossible to fulfill our contract (such as a ban of all gatherings of over a certain number), would we be able to nullify this contract.

 

Is proof of vaccination or negative test result required to attend the conference?

Yes, all conference participants will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative PCR test within the previous 72 hours to receive a conference badge (nametag). Proof of vaccination must be for fully-vaccinated status, and we will follow the CDC’s definition of “fully vaccinated,” which is currently two weeks after the second dose of a 2-dose series or two weeks after a one-dose series. Booster shots are recommended if available to attendees, but are not required, unless the CDC updates their definition of fully vaccinated to include them.

 

What formats should vaccination proof/negative test results take, and which vaccinations will be accepted?

Vaccination proof may be presented as hard copy original, photocopy, or digital copy (picture) of official, government-issued vaccination card. We will accept the three vaccinations currently recommended by the CDC (Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson). For international attendees, vaccinations approved by the World Health Organization (such as Astra-Zeneca or Covaxin) or an official government-issued vaccination record from another country will be accepted.

PCR test results may be presented in hard copy original, photocopy, or digital copy (picture) format, but the results must be displayed in English.

 

Does SWPACA have a preference about vaccination v. negative test?

Although participants may present either proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test result for access to the conference, SWPACA will provide a $10 Starbucks gift card to attendees who provide proof of vaccination. Gift cards will be given at conference check in (do not send proof ahead of time; bring it with you) when conference badges are supplied.

Because leading experts recommend vaccination as one of the best practices for limiting the spread of COVID-19, SWPACA is choosing to reward participants who provide proof of vaccination. Gift cards will not be provided to attendees who choose to provide proof of a negative test rather than proof of vaccination.

 

How will I know that other attendees have provided proof of vaccination or negative test result?

A conference badge (nametag) will be given to participants at check in, upon providing proof of vaccination or negative PCR test. Conference badges will be required to be worn by participants in all conference spaces and activities at all times. Attendees not displaying their badge will be asked to leave conference spaces and retrieve their badge before rejoining – even if they are presenting in the session. Attendees who lose their badge may receive a replacement from the registration desk, but will be required to again show proof of vaccination or negative PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours.

 

Will facemasks be required?

All conference participants and hotel staff will be required to wear masks fully covering the mouth and nose in all public conference areas at all times, unless actively eating or drinking. This requirement will still be in place, even if New Mexico’s mask mandate has expired by the time of the conference. We can’t promise other guests at the hotel will always be masked, but we are the only large group in attendance that week, and only registered attendees will be allowed in conference rooms and activities. We will post copious signage in conference areas indicating the requirements for masking and displaying of name badges.

 

What other health and safety measures will SWPACA employ during the conference?

We are using larger meeting rooms with seating spread out to allow for appropriate distancing. Additionally, we will provide readily-available hand sanitizer at several stations throughout the conference areas and free disposable masks (although we encourage you to bring your own masks also!).

 

What precautions will the Hyatt staff take?

The Hyatt Regency staff will follow Hyatt’s Global Commitment to Health and Care.

 

What happens if a participant cannot or refuses to comply with the proof of vaccination or negative test requirement?

Participants who have registered in the Early Bird period and will not be able or willing to meet the vaccination or negative test requirement may request a full refund by January 10, 2022. Requests must be submitted in writing to tburnett@southwestpca.org.

Participants who arrive at the conference and decline to show either proof of vaccination or negative test result at check-in will not be allowed admission to the conference, and they will not be issued a registration refund.

 

Are virtual presentation or attendance options available?

All presenters are expected to present live and in person. Due to limitations of available technology infrastructure, budget, and staffing, we are unable to provide streaming or videoconferences of conference sessions. The internet on site is not able to handle streaming participation for individual presenters (ie: videoconferencing or zooming of sessions). We also cannot guarantee individuals’ private wifi signals will have strong enough reception to hotspot individual panels (experience suggests such attempts would be unsuccessful), and Hyatt AV staff will not be able to support private devices in this capacity. As such, we are unable to offer virtual options at this time.

 

Why is it important to stay in the Conference block at the Hyatt Regency?

In addition to providing you ease of access to conference sessions and activities, staying in the conference hotel is an act of good citizenship to help ensure that the our hotel block is filled. Part of SWPACA’s contract with the Hyatt that allows us access to conference rooms and amenities like free wifi, is filling the hotel room block. If we do not meet this requirement, SWPACA faces significant financial penalties, which will negatively impact our ability to fulfill our mission and to host future conferences.

 

What should I expect at the conference in terms of how sessions will run, being a panel moderator, or available technology?

Please see our FAQs for full details on all these topics on our website.