Balloon Fiesta set to launch with new safety protocols

Balloon Fiesta set to launch with new safety protocols

Rising Covid-19 numbers in New Mexico and across the country have resulted in the cancellation of some major events, but the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is still scheduled to launch some 588 hot air balloons from Albuquerque this October.

The 49th annual event was postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic, but Fiesta organizers are working to keep it on track for this October. Officials will be implementing a number of Covid safety precautions as Balloon Fiesta Park prepares to welcome an estimated 866,000 attendees, including 671 pilots from around the world.

Organizers do not currently plan to limit crowd capacity at Balloon Fiesta Park, nor do they plan to require proof of a Covid-19 vaccination in order to enter the park; however, organizers have said they may review these policies.

Photo by Ryan Lowery

Visitors to this year’s Fiesta will not be required to wear face coverings in most areas, since the majority of events are outdoors. However, anyone utilizing the park-and-ride option must wear a face mask while on the bus, regardless of vaccination status, according to Fiesta officials.

For anyone who has not been vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus, it is “recommended” they wear a mask “if they are unable to social distance,” according to an Aug. 18 update from Fiesta officials. Increased physical distancing will also be “encouraged” in all areas.

A cashless payment method will be available along Main Street where food trucks, concessions, and merchandise booths are located. And officials said ventilation will be increased in tents and indoor facilities.

Under the current public health order, masks are required indoors in any public setting through at least Sept. 15. If the health order requirement is extended through at least the first full week of October, that rule would apply to the limited number of indoor areas at Balloon Fiesta Park.

This year’s Fiesta is scheduled to begin Saturday, Oct. 2. Tickets are available now at Fiesta officials plan to issue a new update Sept. 1.

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