The Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C. opened its doors Tuesday for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, putting its high-tech new safety protocols into practice.
One of the biggest hits to the local economy during COVID-19 has been the loss of large events such as conventions. The reopening of D.C.'s largest convention center represents a hopeful return to business as usual.
Visitors to the convention center will now be guided by masked employees to a device that takes their temperatures and uses facial recognition software to scan faces to check for masks and face coverings, which are mandatory.
Once inside the building, visitors' temperatures are continuously monitored by sensors.
Greg Odell, CEO of Events D.C., which manages the D.C. Convention Center, explains that the sensors can do more than just monitor temperatures.
"It also allows us to monitor guests' movement, so we can see if people are clustered or gathered too close and [to] enforce social distancing," Odell said.
Other safety measures in the convention center include the deployment of a high-tech disinfectant.
Mayor Muriel Bowser's Maternal and Infant Health Summit, which began Tuesday, will be the first virtual conference held at the D.C. Convention Center. Only 50 people will be able to gather in person, but more than 6,000 additional guests will be joining the conference online.
The Maternal and Infant Health Summit is the first of three events to be held in the new virtual convention center in September.