Roanoke businesses react to loosened COVID-19 guidelines

Roanoke Valley News

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Word of Gov. Ralph Northam’s loosened COVID-19 guidelines spread like wildfire across southwest Virginia.

With the updates to alcohol sales and outdoor venue seating capacities, businesses in Roanoke are breathing a sigh of relief.

“Taking these steps forward and getting back to what we’re used to, that’s awesome,” said Kasey Canada, a Front of House Manager and Bartender at Awful Arthur’s Seafood Company.

Restaurants and bars have had to stop selling alcohol after 10 p.m. each night.

It may not seem like those late-night/early morning hours would bring in much revenue, Canada will tell you otherwise.

“Here at Awful’s, we’re known as a late-night bar. We’re that bar that all the other bars come to for late-night and have a drink and relax, so we took a hard hit,” Canada said.

Outdoor gatherings can now host more people, moving up from 10 to 25 people.

On the entertainment side of outdoor gatherings, outdoor venues can now seat up to 30-percent capacity or 1,000 seats, whichever is fewer.

“We haven’t really had any issues with selling tickets, but I imagine this is going to greatly improve that,” said Waynette Anderson, President of Dr. Pepper Park.

Anderson has been in planning mode for months, preparing for Dr. Pepper Park’s concert season, which starts in May.

She said she anticipated that capacity limits and restrictions were going to be lifted before then, but not in mid to late February.

Now, she’s breathing sighs of relief, knowing that increased capacity is certain.

“People know that we have the experience of producing events, safely, because we did so all of last year,” Anderson said. “The timing of the announcement is really great for us.”

Dr. Pepper Park has already booked 11 national acts and nine tribute acts, including Kip Moore, The Cadillac Three, and Blues Traveler with JJ Grey & Mofro, to name a few.

They’re also preparing for the Roanoke Wing Fest, and being able to welcome more people onto the grounds is exciting for Anderson.

Canada believes this announcement is the first of more to come as Virginia progresses through the pandemic.

“Hopefully this loosens up a little bit to where we can start getting some more events, now that the weather is getting nice, and just having a good time and celebrating amongst each other,” Canada said.”

The statewide curfew of midnight to 5 a.m. has also been lifted.

Though nothing is certain during this pandemic, certainly right now it seems that the light at the end of the long tunnel, that is this COVID-19 pandemic, is closer than it’s ever been.

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