coronavirus in connecticut

Event Industry Asks State Leaders for Timeline on Expanding Capacity

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Currently for commercial venues, there’s a maximum of 25 people allowed inside at events. And for a lot of those businesses, like wedding venues, that’s not a number that makes financial sense.

“This room would be filled with love. It would be filled with people and music and great food,” said Jonathan Jennings, executive vice president of Connecticut Wedding Group.

But for too many weekends to count, the spaces inside the Barns at Wesleyan Hills in Middletown have been empty. Jennings says it’s been an extraordinarily challenging year.

“For hospitality and catering businesses in Connecticut, it’s been economically devastating,” said Jennings.

For venues that book months and years in advance, planning is crucial. That’s why groups representing the event industry sent a letter to state leaders pleading for a specific date for the reopening of indoor events of at least 150 guests.

Advocates point out New Jersey has already increased capacity for indoor gatherings and New York announced something similar starting in mid-March, with guidelines in place.

“We don’t just want to open. We want to open safely,” said Jennings. “We want to create beautiful, fun, and safe environments for our employees, for our clients, and for their guests.”

“New York is right over the border. We don’t want to lose our clients who want to get married, who want to have their birthday parties, who want to have their celebrations go over the border to New York. We’d like to keep the business here in Connecticut,” said Shiran Nicholson, founder and president of Connecticut Event Industry Coalition.

Nicholson also owns The Knowlton Event Venue in Bridgeport. He says advanced notice would rebuild customer confidence for keeping a current event or planning one down the road.

“It doesn’t mean just because you say ‘let’s open tomorrow’ that all of a sudden there’s a flood of events. Because it does take time to plan these events,” said Nicholson.

On Thursday, Governor Ned Lamont said it’s something they’re thinking about.

“I think early next week we’ll be in a position to make some clear direction on that,” said Lamont.

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