GOOCHLAND, Va. (WWBT) - Monday saw the start of loosened COVID-19 restriction across the commonwealth. While entertainment and restaurant industries saw a noticeable increase in the total capacity, social gatherings have only increased from 10 to a maximum of 25 people and the wedding industry is taking notice.
“The wedding industry is getting left behind,” Kim Moody said. “I don’t think I could have ever imagined working so hard just to go back to work.”
Moody is the director of events at the Estate at River Run in Goochland. She says between the pandemic and statewide restrictions, her venue hasn’t been operating many ceremonies at all.
“It stopped us dead in our tracks and we’re still getting business, but it’s at a much slower pace and it’s much farther out,” Moody said. “We’re still moving old money around that the vendors took in in 2018 and 2019, and we’re still unsure of when we will be able to provide the services to these couples and now they’re just getting exhausted.”
- Social gatherings: The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase from 10 to 25 people for outdoor settings while remaining at 10 persons for indoor settings.
- Entertainment venues: Outdoor entertainment and public amusement venues will be able to operate with up to 1,000 individuals or at 30 percent capacity, whichever is lower. If current trends continue, these venues may be able to operate at 30 percent capacity with no cap on the number of people permitted to attend starting in April. Indoor entertainment and public amusement venues must continue to operate at 30 percent capacity with a cap of 250 people. All entertainment venues were previously limited to a maximum of 250 individuals.
- Dining establishments: The on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol will be permitted until midnight, extended from 10 p.m. All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms still must be closed between midnight and 5 a.m.
- Overnight summer camps: As of May 1, overnight summer camps will be able to open with strict mitigation measures in place. Registration can begin now.
Moody says the state’s wedding industry wants the same to follow similar guidelines afforded to other industries in the governor’s guidelines, especially since wedding venues typically have more room to safely distance than restaurants have.
“A lot of the restaurant industry is open back up at a percentage capacity and their spaces are much smaller than the venues,” Moody said. “We’ve got eight to 12 bathrooms and ample HVAC systems and tens of thousands of square feet of outdoor hardscapes.”
For months now, Moody says the wedding industry has been trying to reach the governor’s office to reconsider these guidelines.
“Our industry would operate much better if it was on a percentage capacity,” Moody said. “There really isn’t a reason a venue this size shouldn’t be hosting a 30 percent capacity because we could do that safely.”
Now she wants Governor Ralph Northam to work with them for a faster path to reopening business.
“If somebody could tell us this is the 30-day plan, this is the 45-day plan. There should never be a point at any time where we don’t know what’s happening in our industry,” Moody said. “You’re not in the wedding industry to be independently wealthy, you’re in the wedding industry to serve the clients and the love you have for those people.”
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