GLEN ALLEN, Va. (WWBT)- Richmond Region Tourism saw 39 of its events canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this weekend finds things starting back up. The USA Softball Virginia State Championships and the Virginia Pickleball Classic will both hit various locations in Henrico County.
"Sports is always a sense of normalcy," said Richmond Region Tourism Director of Sports Relations J.C. Poma. "It allows people to get out, become active, stay healthy, and we're really excited to get folks here."
"It feels like as much back to normal as we possibly can," added Henrico County Board of Supervisors Vice-Chair Dan Schmitt. "It's great to see families out here enjoying the outdoor weather and enjoying recreation sports again."
Of course, the pandemic brings about various concerns for athletes and families who will be traveling and taking part in recreation and travel sporting activities. Richmond Region Tourism and Henrico County have aggressively planned for safety measures to help keep all attendees healthy. County staff members will be on-site at each location, organizers will focus on cleanliness and sanitation of restrooms and facilities, and plenty of signs with guidelines and protocols will be posted. Spectators are encouraged to bring their own chairs, as bleachers will be off-limits. Teams were also required to submit their own health and safety plans.
“Expectations were laid out about distancing and about cleanliness,” said Schmitt. “Submissions were requested on their part for their health and safety plans, and those documents are on file with the county for the length of their field assignments.”
"There will be temperature checks by coaches prior to arriving," noted Poma. "There will not be on-site temperature checks. Every individual operator has come forward with a plan that has been approved by Henrico County."
The area's economy is also set to receive a much-needed boost. 33 sports tourism events are now on the schedule for throughout the summer, expected to bring in about $21 million of economic impact.
"There are tons of amenities around our area when you're here," Schmitt pointed out. "Our restaurant scene, our shopping scene, retail scene... there's plenty of things to do when you're in Henrico, so it is an economic impact."
With safety paramount, and tourists from near and far set to visit the area, Henrico County is welcoming all with open arms.
"We want you to come out, enjoy being outdoors again, enjoy youth and adult recreation sports, but just do so safely," said Schmitt. "It's going to have a different look, but we're thrilled to welcome y'all back."
The USA Softball Virginia State Championships feature athletes ages 10-18, while the Virginia Pickleball Classic will see athletes of all ages.
Copyright 2020 WWBT. All rights reserved.