After considerable discussion, the WordPress Community Team is lifting the requirements of the in-person meetup safety checklist for meetups that gather fully-vaccinated attendees. The checklist is still applicable to all meetup groups but in places where vaccines are freely available, meetup organizers can now forego its requirements if they limit gatherings to those self-reporting as fully vaccinated.
When Andrea Middleton proposed adding vaccination status to the checklist in mid-May, the idea was met with a wide range of concerns and strong opinions. WordPress’ global community has experienced the pandemic in different ways, living under a spectrum of local restrictions, with disparate access to vaccines and varying responses to available vaccines. Some participants in the discussions were concerned about organizers having to request information about vaccination status from attendees, which is illegal in many places. Middleton clarified that attendance would be based on the honor system, and organizers would not be requesting any health information from individuals.
“The WordPress community team is not expecting or requiring local organizers to organize in-person events for fully-vaccinated people — we’re simply removing the barrier to doing so,” she said. The decision announcement includes a flow chart for the conditions that are now in place:
Middleton characterized the proposal as contentious and something that may be an unpopular decision. Participants in the discussion got heated in expressing their opinions, which varied greatly based on each person’s unique pandemic experiences and convictions.
While some think it overstepping to prohibit unvaccinated people from attending meetups, others think only allowing vaccinated attendees would create a “two-tiered” meetup program.
“This proposal means that multiple groups of people will no longer be allowed to attend our meetings,” Taco Verdonschot commented. “They’re limited to the meetings that are streamed online. They’re basically second class citizens in our community now. They can’t join the party, they have to watch through the window. Just this idea makes me extremely uncomfortable.”
Verdonschot cited several examples of people who might be excluded by the proposal to restart meetups for vaccinated attendees:
- People with a low income in areas where the vaccines aren’t provided for free
- Younger people in countries where vaccinations are administered to the elderly first, and only slowly make their way to the younger generations (like The Netherlands)
- People who cannot get a vaccination for medical reasons, for example, because of known allergic reactions to vaccinations
- Pregnant women
- People with a limited immune system
- People whose religion doesn’t allow them to get vaccinated
“I realize there are some on the team who do not agree, and I hope that these guidelines are flexible enough that you are able to disagree and commit in this case,” Middleton said in the decision announcement.
“While I agree that it’s only a matter of time when fully-vaxxed-only meetups are a thing of the past, I do think it’s important to make that possible for our communities.”