Major events draw COVID-19 concerns, venues adapt in order to comply

‘We want to give people at least some opportunity to be able to comply’

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Major events are drawing concern because of an increase in the delta variant and COVID-19 cases.

Thousands of mask-less Hokies fans, standing shoulder-to-shoulder during Friday’s football game, are receiving criticism.

But Dr. Noelle Bissell, health director of the New River Health District, says Virginia Tech has a high vaccination rate.

“People were yelling and screaming and whatnot, but it was outdoors. So, if people did the right thing and stayed home if they were sick, then we really shouldn’t see a huge bump from an event like that,” said Bissell.

She says the main concern for big events is indoors versus outdoors.

“Outdoors, you know, transmission is rare,” said Bissell.

The Harvester Performance Center in Rocky Mount reopened last weekend.

Patrons will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative covid test beginning Oct. 1.

“We want to give people at least some opportunity to be able to comply [with the new guidelines],” said Micah Davidson, director of operations for the Harvester Performance Center.

The indoor venue has a mask mandate in place now and will continue to do so regardless of vaccination status.

“Not only are the artists coming from another town, but they’re also going to another town. You have staff and crew who constantly are working multiple events. And it’s all about just making sure that everybody in the industry is as safe as possible,” said Davidson.

The Blue Ridge Rock Festival is returning to Southside on Oct. 9th.

Organizers expect about 35,000 people each of the four days.

“We’ve worked very closely with the health department to ensure a safe, solid event that will protect our fans and delivery a great, positive experience,” said Jonathan Slye, chief executive officer of Purpose Driven Events.

Vaccines and masks are not required for fans, but those backstage will have to follow CDC guidelines.

Fans wishing to social distance will have more than 400 acres to do so.

If you’re sick or have been exposed to COVID-19, you’re strongly encouraged to stay home.

“They will be taken care of with their ticket. We’re going to rollover those tickets to next year and give them an even stronger value,” said Slye.

The Harvester is also offering an option to anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable going to the venue, or disagrees with their new policies. They can receive a refund by Oct. 7th.

About the Author:

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.