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Entertainment venue capacities increase, but leave wedding industry with 25 person capacity

Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 11:30 PM EST
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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - New changes to Virginia’s COVID-19 restrictions went into effect on March 1 and now allow more people in several public places, like recreational sporting events and overnight summer camps.

Entertainment venues can now have up to 250 people indoors, or 30 percent capacity, and up to 1,000 people outdoors, or 30 percent capacity.

Social events, like weddings, fall under “social gathering” restrictions and now only allow 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.

2020 was supposed to be the first, fully operating year for Frieden Farms in Mount Crawford.

Event Coordinator Becky Hummel said it has been tough to give clients their dream wedding when restrictions allow only some of their closest family and friends, and she’s heard some couples are choosing to book out of state where COVID-19 restrictions allow for more guests.

She said other states have different guidelines for gatherings at home versus gatherings at a venue, and she thinks Virginia should too.

“We would just like to ask the Governor of Virginia to distinguish between the two and to focus on what event venues can do to improve the safeguards, that many have already put in place,” Hummel said.

Hummel said the Friedens Farm venue has invested thousands of dollars into air purification systems and cleaning equipment.

She said people can easily social distance in their space, and they have designated entrances and exits, staff members to sanitize high touch areas during events, large doors that can open, and hand sanitizer throughout their facilities.

Laurel Detamore and Cody Voltin had originally planned for their wedding to be in April of 2020 at Frieden Farms and after rescheduling several times since then, they are now hoping to get married in May.

“I would like to not reschedule for the fifth time,” Detamore said. “If they’re going to keep it capped at 25, that’s not the wedding I grew up imagining, so I probably will push it out again.”

The couple is glad Frieden Farms did not charge them extra for having to reschedule several times, but other couples haven’t been so lucky. They said it has been financially draining in other ways, like sending out several save the dates and invitations, as well as mementos.

Hummel said in 2020 Frieden Farms was able to host several weddings under half capacity, which is 149 people, but a few couples have moved their weddings to 2021 in hopes of having a larger event.

Several other industries like photographers, florists, bakers, caterers, deejays, formal wear stores, and rental businesses have also been impacted over the past year.

Hummel said the few events they held at half capacity went well with no reported outbreaks, and she thinks Virginia should allow event venues to do at least that now.

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