NEFFA 2023 Festival COVID-19 Policy

We are excited to be gathering in person for NEFFA this year at the Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel and Trade Center in Marlborough, Massachusetts! Our goal is to provide an opportunity to celebrate and build community, while limiting the spread of disease. Below is our COVID-19 policy for this event, which applies to all NEFFA participants (audience members, performers, volunteers, vendors, etc.). We understand that no set of mitigating strategies will accommodate everyone’s needs or preferences, so please read this policy carefully when deciding whether to attend NEFFA. We ask that you be respectful toward NEFFA organizers (an intrepid band of volunteers!), take good care of each other, and support compliance with this policy.

Note that this policy is subject to change as the event nears, so watch this page for updates. (We do not expect policies to become substantially less cautious.)

Additional details and explanation for the first two policy points will appear in a dropdown if you click/tap on that policy item. A second click/tap will close that section.

  • Proof may be provided by showing one of the following:
    • A physical CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card or a clear photo of the card.
    • A digital vaccine record. 
  • Review of your vaccination documentation in advance of the Festival is highly recommended and will expedite your entry at the Festival.  (Advance uploads were available until midnight, Wednesday, April 19.)
  • The bivalent booster is your best bet for keeping yourself and others healthy. It is known to be more effective against the current COVID variants at preventing disease and for making disease milder. Get a bivalent booster before NEFFA if you can.
  • For reference, the CDC guidelines are here, and note that being “up to date” with vaccinations includes having gotten the bivalent booster, in most cases.
  • Individuals who are unable to be vaccinated may request a review from our ombudsfolk by emailing, but we anticipate few exceptions. Requests for exceptions must be made ahead of time, by Friday, April 14, 2023; exceptions will not be considered at the Festival.

We understand that there are many arguments for and against a vaccination requirement. We certainly respect individual choices and the nuance involved in devising any COVID policy. Vaccines offer the people who get them an additional buffer against contracting and spreading COVID, and they are shown to offer significant protection against severe illness. We know vaccines are not perfect at these things, and the possibility of some disease spread at NEFFA is certainly present. But we wish to limit the transmission and severity of illness as much as we can. NEFFA has many stakeholders, and this is the approach our organizers are most comfortable with.

  • In restaurant areas, participants may remove masks when seated at a table and eating. 
  • Masks may be lowered briefly to drink water.
  • For performers: Callers/singers on stage may wear a disposable paper medical/surgical mask while performing, but then must switch to better protection when off stage. Wind players please contact ahead of time; after checking with your bandmates, we may require same-day testing if you can’t wear a mask while playing. All other performers must wear their high-quality mask while performing.
  • Young children (two and under) who are unable to wear a mask but are up to date with vaccinations, may attend, but will be required to present a same-day negative rapid test for each day they attend.
  • Please be respectful and kind if someone needs a reminder to wear their mask properly. If someone reminds you to mask up, please do so. 
  • We will have a supply of appropriate masks available at the Festival, but we recommend bringing a good supply of a brand and style you like.
  • Please note that we cannot require Hotel staff to follow our COVID policy. It is possible that Hotel staff will be unmasked. 

We understand that requiring masks for all participants is another point that is likely to spark debate. Many people cannot or do not want to wear a mask, for a wide variety of reasons. But the evidence indicates that masking works very well in mitigating the transmission of airborne disease. It has proven to be one of the best tools for preventing the spread of COVID. For this year’s NEFFA, the organizers are most comfortable requiring everyone to mask up as much as possible.

Testing: COVID testing for all participants is highly recommended. Testing is a very helpful tool for limiting the spread of disease, and it can detect COVID even if you don’t have symptoms. We recommend testing every day you attend NEFFA, but it is not required.


Symptoms or Testing Positive: If you feel unwell at all, have a positive COVID test result, or have had COVID very recently (with a positive test or symptoms beginning less than 10 days ago), please do not attend NEFFA. We’ll have another Festival next year and would love to see you then!  We will refund tickets purchased in advance, if you are unable to attend due to illness.


Waiver: Purchase of a ticket, or attendance as a performer, volunteer, vendor, etc., constitutes a waiver of liability and acceptance of personal risk.


Spread the Word: Please make sure that everyone attending the Festival with you is familiar with this policy.