COVID-19 restrictions push politically conservative conference to Beaver Creek venue
Freedom Conference organizers expect around 100 attendees, who will all receive face masks hand sanitizer and safety info
When organizers of the Freedom Conference learned from Routt County officials that their 12th annual event couldn’t be staged in Steamboat Springs because of COVID-19 restrictions, they found an alternative venue at Beaver Creek.
As a result, the 100 or so conference attendees will be coming to Eagle County for the event planned Aug. 28 and Aug. 29.
“With the restrictions and guidelines in place due to COVID-19, we needed much more space to hold this year’s conference, even with a much smaller audience, to provide appropriate social distancing,” said Jennifer Schubert-Akin, CEO of the Steamboat Institute, the politically conservative organization which presents the annual conference.
“We are committed to setting an example for how group events can resume in a safe, responsible manner, if the host organization is willing to expend the time and resources to make the event as safe as possible, while hosting an event that people will enjoy attending,” Schubert-Akin continued. “The Steamboat Institute takes the health and safety of our guests and the hotel staff very seriously.”
She noted safety protocols in place for the event will include providing faces masks and hand sanitizer to every attendee, using touchless thermometers to take guests’ temperatures upon arrival and screening each guest with a health questionnaire before admittance.
“We have expended thousands of additional dollars with our safety protocols, including structuring this year’s conference as three separate events,” Schubert-Akin said. “We also sent communications to our guests before the event, asking people to stay home if they feel sick or have any symptoms of COVID-19 (or think they may have been exposed). We offered to refund registrations to anyone who decides not to attend this year.”
Schubert-Akin acknowledged that this year’s Freedom Conference looks very different from any other year. The conference is operating three separate events in three separate meeting rooms with an audio-visual plan geared to make participants feel connected to one another although they will be physically separated throughout the entire two-day event.
“There will be fewer than 100 people attending each of our three events, so it’s definitely a smaller audience than previous years with much more space to maintain social distancing guidelines,” Schubert-Akin said. “We have worked very closely with the Park Hyatt and the Eagle County Board of Health to ensure that our event is in compliance with Eagle County’s guidelines.”
What’s on tap?
Speakers for this year’s conference include Heather MacDonald of The Manhattan Institute for the keynote address; Dr. Scott W. Atlas, coronavirus adviser to President Trump; and Charlie Kirk, founder and president of Turning Point USA.
Discussions topics for the event include liberty vs. security, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic (what worked well, what could we do better, how do we balance health/safety concerns with economic/social concerns?), “America First” foreign policy and “China, America and the New Cold War.”
“Our goal for this weekend’s Freedom Conference is to inform, challenge, entertain and inspire our guests,” Schubert-Akin said. “We welcome everyone, regardless of political ideology, views on social issues, or anything else. We simply ask that people who attend our events are willing to engage in robust but respectful debate.”
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