Commune, the much-anticipated food festival that was set to take over the new Heights House Hotel in August, has announced plans to scale back its events significantly amid a new spike in COVID-19 cases fueled by the delta variant.
In a statement provided to press on Tuesday, the festival noted that its organizers had watched COVID cases rise in Texas and beyond, and that it “cannot, in good faith, ask hundreds of chefs and thousands of [people] to get in cars and on planes” to travel to Houston by August 21, when the festival was set to kick off.
“While we can’t predict where we will be by then as a state or even as a country, we know that we are unwilling to gamble with anyone’s health,” the statement reads. “We want to do this thing right.” As such, the full-scale Commune festival is being pushed back to March 2022, complete with more than 200 chefs and the original line-up events, which includes everything from private dinners to a Jewish deli pop-up.
In the meantime, though, the festival will host a seriously scaled back slate of events with 24 different chefs, set for August 26-29. All of the planned events will take place outdoors, with limited seating. Folks who have already purchased tickets for the fest’s events can redeem them for the three-day fest, dubbed Commune Preview, hold onto them for the March 22 event, or request a refund.
Of course, that could all change again if the COVID-19 crisis continues to linger. “If the tide rises again, we’ll make a decision that prioritizes the safety of staff, talent, guests and our greater community,” the festival’s organizers said. Commune isn’t the only festival that’s been impacted by the pandemic, either — last week, the organizers of Houston Pride announced that this year’s event was cancelled due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
The news of Commune’s big changes came as Harris County announced its 19th consecutive day of record hospitalizations. At present, more than 5,000 people in Harris County have died of the virus, according to Harris County Public Health, and new cases continue to be confirmed daily in the county at a seriously alarming rate.