On the same day St. Lawrence College and Queen's University (August 12th 2021) made similar announcements, Kingston Pride's Board of Directors has decided to require vaccination to maximize safety for attendees.
The board released a statement that said they have made the "difficult but necessary decision that all attendees of in-person, COVID-screened events must be fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus".
The release continues that the decision "offers the highest level of protection for everyone and will help prevent further spread of the COVID-19 virus among the 2SLGBTQIA* community, our allies and the broader population."
Ian Burns, one of the board members, said the decision followed suit with a number of businesses and organizations making that decision.
He said he's hopeful the declarations by the schools in Kingston will lead to more planned attendees getting vaccinated regardless of Pride events, but that this had to be done for the safety of the community.
"We don't want to exclude people, but we want to make sure people are safe and as we've seen from scientific evidence the best protection against continued exposure to COVID-19 and against continued variation of the disease is vaccination," Burns said.
Burns said especially with this being the first time Kingston Pride has been able to hold events in person since 2019, they want to ensure all safety measures are observed.
Overall, he says, the decision has been positively received.
"A lot of people applauding us for coming out with this decision," he said.
"We've had a few people who are not pro this decision and we just encourage them to look at the scientific evidence and consider getting vaccinated so they can attend the in person events."
He continued that these measures are only in place for the in person events, and that virtual events are still open to anyone.
The events have had to be adapted to include physical distancing measures and caps on attendees, and Burns says things have been moved outside to try to maximize participation.
The community fair has also been split into two days to allow for more people to attend this year with the limited numbers.
The parade and community fair, postponed from June, will take place September 25-26.
Story by Owen Fullerton, YGK News, for the Local Journalism Initiative.