The ripple effect from the spike in COVID-19 infections continues across the island, with hotels seeing some guests cancel reservations, the Society of the Four Arts announcing new safety protocols and more organizations canceling events.
The omicron variant has fueled a roughly 1,000% increase in infections statewide in the past two weeks. On Wednesday, the CDC reported a record-shattering 46,923 new infections throughout the state. The tally was nearly 18,000 more than the previous one-day record of 29,059 infections that was set 24 hours earlier.
“The Breakers is experiencing some cancellations based on current COVID-19 circumstances, (but) these cancellations have enabled us to accommodate hotel guests who wish to extend their stay due to air-travel concerns,” Director of Communications Sara A. Flight said in an email.
The resort is prepared for business spikes and surges, she added. “Our enduring family ownership’s long-term approach to business, builds in a margin of safety based on the philosophy ‘for bad weather,’ ” Flight said.
During peak-demand holiday periods, The Breakers maintains reduced capacities to deliver a comfortable experience for guests, “for whom we are also rescheduling reservations and extending flexible cancellation policies,” she said.
As the resort adapts to “this ever-changing climate,” she added, management will continue to address “challenges with prudent, thoughtful and timely decisions to revise our operations.”
Michelle Phillips, director of marketing and branding at Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa in Manalapan, said the hotel has seen only “minimal cancellations due to COVID” and some of those have come from people who said their flights to the Palm Beach area had been cancelled.
“We have been lucky enough to be blessed with a beautiful, sunny week, allowing our guests to safely enjoy their time here, relaxing by the pool and beach and enjoying many outdoor activities. The resort is still practicing enhanced cleaning protocols and we have not relaxed our mask policy for our hoteliers,” Phillips said.
And in its response to the spike, the Four Arts announced Wednesday that it had updated its health and safety protocols. The changes apply to patrons 18 and older attending live performances.
Those attendees will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 professionally administered PCR test taken within 72 hours of the program or to voluntarily show proof of full vaccination with booster for COVID-19. A photo identification also is required.
The protocols apply to those attending lectures, films, HD screenings and programs by guest speakers in the Esther B. O’Keeffe Building’s Gubelmann Auditorium, and for all lectures and programs held in the Dixon Education Building’s Johnson Hall.
Those younger than 18 are exempt from showing ID and proof of a negative test but attend at their own risk, the Four Arts said.
In addition, face masks must be worn indoors at the Four Arts at all times, regardless of age or vaccination status, and people who remove masks during programs will be asked to leave, the organization said.
Meanwhile, the Sailfish Club is closed and has cancelled its New Year’s Eve party, according to a member; and the Palm Beach Symphony announced late Tuesday that it had canceled its Thursday cocktail reception at Findlay Galleries.
The organizations join other groups that have called off events in recent days. The United Way of Palm Beach canceled its Campaign Luncheon scheduled for Jan. 19 at The Breakers “due to rising COVID cases and the spreading omicron variant.”
American Friends of the Hebrew University said Monday it had moved its annual Scopus Gala from Jan. 15 to April 4, just days after a postponement from the Birthright Israel Foundation, which has rescheduled its Jan. 19 event honoring its co-founder, Charles Bronfman, to March 10.
Town Council President Maggie Zeidman, who has been at the forefront of leading the town’s policies during the pandemic, said projections she had seen suggested the surge in new infections for South Florida would peak around the third week in January and start to decline around the second week of February.
Zeidman, a retired director of nursing at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, warned that positivity is actually higher than what is being reported, because the prevalence of home testing means a lot of infections are not being reported to official channels.
She noted that while people who are vaccinated and have received their booster generally have a mild form of the disease, people who are immunocompromised or have comorbidities remain extremely vulnerable to the virus.
Zeidman’s message is simple: Get vaccinated and get the booster — and wear masks.