Veteran Montreal event planner calls out colleagues who don’t follow COVID-19 rules
By Cindy Sherwin, CTV Montreal
MONTREAL — As Quebec’s premier and public health experts continue to blame the rising number of COVID-19 cases on private gatherings and vow to crack down on scofflaws, a veteran Montreal events planner is chastising some in his industry for not adhering to public health guidelines.
“If I see things that people are doing that are hurting our industry as a whole, I will call them out,” says Lorne Levitt, who says he wants them to wake up and think about how they might be part of the problem.
When Levitt logs into a private industry Facebook group, or scrolls through competitors’ social media, he says examples of egregious behaviour and bad planning abound.
“I see caterers hosting events at people's homes with open buffets with food laid out – beautifully done - with no thought process on the health and safety," Levitt laments, as each guest uses their hands or the same serving utensils to serve themselves.
He is asking colleagues to send the right message to clients, which is: "if you want to hold events – no problem. There are safe ways to do it.”
The Total Events and Entertainment owner says he’s also seen recent posts of organized events where people are dancing arm-in-arm, “on top of each other,” and guests and staff are drifting through a room filled with a hundred people, not wearing masks.
“That’s what blows my mind,” says Levitt, “because you can’t control the clients, but we can control the professionals. And when I see that kind of stuff, it irks me.”
The events and entertainment industry has been hard hit by the pandemic, losing millions of dollars in revenue.
But Levitt thinks if they’re not smart about implementing COVID mitigation measures, it will take longer for the industry to rebound.
“I totally agree with him. He’s right,” another longtime Montreal event planner tells CTV.
Daniela Caputo is so concerned someone could potentially contract the virus at a party she planned, the Montreal Event Planner owner decided to back away from her business altogether during this fraught time.
“You’re already responsible for the event, but you don’t want to be responsible for somebody getting sick or somebody’s family getting sick. You don’t want that on your head, that’s your conscience,” she says.
The uneven approach to applying health measures at private gatherings like weddings, bar-mitzvahs and baby showers is also distressing some of invitees.
A Montreal resident who preferred not to be identified sent CTV News an invitation to a family event scheduled for this month. It was sent to about 100 guests, and she‘s unhappy there were no details provided about how social distancing and other rules will be managed at an outdoor, cocktail-style party.
A physically distanced wedding organized last month by Levitt at the Royalmount Drive-in he co-owns is an example, he says, of how celebrations can still be enjoyable, albeit in an unusual and undoubtedly non-traditional way.
“There is no post-COVID at this point," he says. "We are in a pandemic still, and we need to act accordingly."