‘Hope for the future’: Entertainment venues prepare for bigger crowds under new guidelines

Entertainment venues are allowed to welcome larger crowds April 1

Gov. Ralph Northam made an announcement on Tuesday that relaxed COVID-19 restrictions for outdoor entertainment.

ROANOKE, Va. – Bigger crowds will soon be possible in Virginia thanks to the governor’s announcement Tuesday, loosening some restrictions.

“It feels fantastic to see that we’re starting to open back up,” said Wendy Delano, director of civic facilities for Salem.

Hope is on the horizon for hard-hit entertainment venues across the Commonwealth, allowed to welcome larger crowds starting April 1.

The governor is easing restrictions to allow 30% capacity at those venues with no maximum outdoors. That means nearly 1,900 people could be heading to Salem Red Sox games soon.

“It really is going to look somewhat normal. Many times, we don’t have a sellout,” Delano said.

Indoor venues won’t be looking normal yet. Their capacity will be doubled, but only to 500 people. Still, though, it’s good news for places like the Salem Civic Center and the Berglund Center that also host small-scale events.

“It gives us hope for the future that we’re able to maybe the next time we’ll be able to bump up to 1,000 and then hopefully after that, who knows what,” Delano said.

“We live to put on events for the people of Roanoke and we really haven’t been able to do that on large scale for the past year, so we’re really excited that everything’s moving in that right direction,” said Robert Knight, director of sales and marketing for the Berglund Center.

The new guidelines are not enough leeway to start booking concerts for either venue just yet.

Knight is hopeful we could see fans in the stands watching the Rail Yard Dawgs this fall if capacity is up to 2,000 or 3,000 by then.

“I say that we’re getting closer, but we still have quite a considerable way to go,” Knight said.

“Before you know it, we’ll be back to normal,” Delano said.

Lots of people are wondering how these new guidelines will impact the race at Martinsville Speedway in just a couple of weeks. A spokesperson told 10 News we can expect an announcement on that Wednesday or Thursday.

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Jessica anchors 10 News on Saturdays and Sundays at 6 and 11 p.m. You can also catch her reporting during the week.