The empty tables and chairs on the National Mall were set out to make a point: The events industry is hurting because of the pandemic, and now many in the industry say they’re looking for guidance from the District about how and when they can begin to start holding events again safely.
Monday Mayor Muriel Bowser announced restrictions were being lifted in many areas, but those in the events industry believe they can hold larger events like dinners and weddings and still be compliant with COVID-19 precautions.
Philip Dufour, of the D.C. Events Coalition, said the industry was hoping to get some good news from the mayor, but it never came.
“We’re actually pretty frustrated and pretty upset about it to be very honest with you,” Dufour said. “There are a lot of places that we can do it. Most of the ballrooms in the city have really great ventilation, big, high ceilings. So it just doesn’t make any sense."
A spokesperson said Bowser wasn't ready to allow larger events, especially if they're indoors. She also said the mayor was continuing to assess safety precautions and plans another update in a few weeks.
Bowser did, however, announce that some restrictions were being lifted related to fitness and exercise. Indoor group fitness classes can resume with up to 10 people, at 25 percent capacity and with six feet of social distancing instead of 10.
Starr McGee, the general manager of Krav Maga Capitol Hill, said she welcomed the new rules after the weather posed a major challenge to trying to hold classes outdoors.
"If it snowed, if it rained, we were not able to have classes, which resulted in a lot of our members choosing to either freeze their accounts indefinitely or cancel their memberships altogether," McGee said.
The next step is getting locker rooms and showers reopened, to give people a place to change and clean up after a working out.