There are some venues and groups who have begun to reopen their doors for kink events. Like many other things nowadays, requirements are varied and controversial, regardless of where they hold their bar for risk. Covid is not gone, and at this point, we are all just doing our best to find ways to interact with our kink communities to the best we are able.
There are, have been, and will continue to be venues / groups who are not requiring any safety precautions for gathering, and are not limiting attendance. It is within their rights to hold events as they choose to, just as it is within the rights of people attending to determine individually if those events fall within their risk profiles. However, I believe it is important for people who are attending events without safety precautions to inform others they may plan to interact with intimately in order to allow those individuals to make informed choices about whether or not they feel safe in those circumstances. Please remember, we can’t tell if someone is a high risk individual based on appearance or guessing. They have the right to know if they may be at risk based on someone else’s behavior. This is very much like disclosing other sexual partners. Someone cannot consent if they are not fully informed as to what they are consenting to.
Other venues and groups are / have been offering masked attendance options. As the pandemic raged and my home dungeon was seeking ways they could continue to pay the rent, one of the possible solutions was what we affectionately termed LAT parties, or limited attendance and time parties, which were not only limited to a maximum of 10 individuals, also included us shuttering some equipment to create more space between stations, required masking, and involved lots of disinfecting and sanitizing. As one of the testers for the concept, my partner and I attempted a full impact scene while wearing masks. As an informational note, our impact tends to start fairly light and wind its way towards a four pound, four foot long flogger made of water buffalo hide. It’s a fairly hefty beast which often leaves both of us panting. While it was entirely possible to be fully satisfied from the physical expression of that experience, we both felt that the masks did present something of a barrier to our usual methods of visual check ins, since it hid much of my facial movement from him. He had to rely more on head movement responses to verbal check-ins, which definitely changed the feel of things for us. It was definitely better than the alternative, however.
Again, though, these types of events will not be for everyone. Some will refuse to play masked, others will not feel safe enough. It is a difficult thing to please everyone, even in the best of times, which these certainly are not.
Most recently, we’ve seen the rise of events which cater to vaccinated individuals. These sorts of events are controversial in any environment. People feel reasonable accommodation should be made for those with allergy issues, religious issues, etc. While this would be true for employers, at least in the US, it isn’t the case for private events. An individual can set requirements for entering their club, home or place of business, or as one explanation said, private events on private property. In this case, that means venues / groups have the right to require proof of vaccination from attendees. This may mean they want a digital copy, or it could mean they want to view it upon entry. States have different guidelines. Some states or even cities are requiring that event planners keep records of vaccinated guests’ names, the date of their final dose and declaration that they are fully vaccinated, which presents some interesting potential issues for kinksters who may not want their information on record in that fashion. The solution to that is to know the laws in your city and state, and if organizers plan to keep your health information on file, so you can make an information decision about attending events.
This is an excellent time to mention that vetting is not just for individuals. It is absolutely appropriate to vet group leaders and ask about group history. If a group has been in existence ten years, likely there are a few local kink community members you can ask about whether or not they have ever released vanilla information, how knowledgeable leadership is, whether or not the group’s consent ideology and policy lines up with yours, etc. If it is a newer group, ask how long it has been around, how they handle consent violation accusations, how they handle education, what resources they share with newcomers, and how they handle personal information of members, if they collect it at all. Before you hand over your information to someone just because they “lead” a group, make sure you are comfortable with their experience level and what they may do with that private info.
If you are interested in following up, here is the latest information on hosting events from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/large-events/considerations-for-events-gatherings.html
And a look at the legalities of requiring vaccinations: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/can-businesses-require-vaccination-proof-experts-say-yes/