2020 severely impacted special events in that for a time New York City was in lock down. Social distancing was strictly enforced, and special events were vastly reduced.
There was real fear, both among citizens and municipal officials of infection and serious illness. Hospital facilities were severely stressed and medical staff struggled with treatment procedures and therapeutics, often seeming ineffective.
Sporting events came to a standstill, conventions were cancelled, meetings were conducted electronically. Executive public evolutions, through a majority of the year, were shelved.
As the year progressed, medical staff were armed with new drugs, and combinations of drugs that were able to treat COVID patients, keeping them out of ICU’s and negating the necessity of ventilators.
Concurrently, citizens adapted to social distancing, wearing of masks, and sanitation practices. Executive protection security assignments cautiously resumed at an increasing pace.
Protocols were developed in the GSS office for compliance with New York state Forward Safety Plan, including reporting and contact tracing for any GSS employee in-office, or during executive protection security tasks.
GSS assigns a COVID Compliance Officer (CCO) to all executive protection planning. This officer is responsible for establishing and enforcing safety protocols, training staff, and monitoring compliance.
At the close of 2020, COVID vaccines were completing testing with astounding efficacy – over 90% - and applications were in process with the FDA for emergency use of these vaccines.
2021 brought approval of vaccines for emergency use. The vaccines were already in production prior to approval and distribution began immediately. This, and the subsequent reduction of infections and deaths brings increased confidence in executive protection security roles.
GSS is well prepared for executive protection, one of our mainstays. Having complied with NY state guidelines through 2020, we are able to smoothly execute security missions with COVID threats present.
Executive protection typically involves layers of protection – travel route screening and selection – with alternate route selections, personal armed bodyguards, pre-screening of destinations which include interviewing local staff, screening invitation lists, and K9 bomb detection. COVID threats add another layer to planning and protection.
GSS offers screening for all planned staff and meeting invitees using NY state approved questionnaires, temperature scans, and supplier-contracted infrared monitoring of entranceways. Signage is posted at all entrance locations, reminding meeting attendees of social distancing requirements and required face covering. Hand sanitizer stations are located at all entrance and exit locations, as well as bathrooms. Public water fountains are closed off, and bottled water is available.
Science has determined that those previously infected with COVID, and recovered, are protected from infection and transmission of the virus. The numbers of these people increased significantly over 2021 – over 748,000 in New York city alone. With the increasing numbers of people vaccinated, the sought after herd immunity is anticipated to be reached later in 2021.
GSS is receiving significantly more requests for executive protection security as 2021 progresses, and we anticipate a robust return to pre-COVID volume of these assignments.