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Alexandria bringing back public events as governor’s guidance eases gathering restrictions

Governor Ralph Northam’s guidance easing restrictions on public gatherings takes effect today, and groups in Alexandria are already planning a number of in-person events that traditionally bring in tens of thousands of people.

Northam recently announced that effective April 1, additional capacity and indoor and outdoor gathering limits will increase to 50 people for indoor settings and 100 people for outdoor settings. Additionally, entertainment venues must continue operating at 30% capacity with a maximum of 500 patrons; recreational sporting events can increase 30% capacity, or from 25 people to 100 people per field; and graduation events must have a cap of 5,000 people or 30% capacity for outdoor events.

The Alexandria Old Town Springtime Art Festival is scheduled as an in-person event on May 15 in the city’s Carlyle neighborhood.

Additionally, the Old Town Arts and Crafts Fair is being planned as an in-person event this summer, and Del Ray’s Art on the Avenue won’t be virtual like it was last year. The city calendar does not yet include any parades or celebrations.

“Our special events staff is working closely with event organizers to determine the right approach,” Mayor Justin Wilson told ALXnow. “I miss parades. I cannot wait until we can safely gather as a community.”

Art on the Avenue features hundreds of artists and routinely brings in 75,000 visitors to Mount Vernon Avenue.

“I’m beyond thrilled to get back to living life,” said Bill Blackburn of Pork Barrel BBQ. “Looking forward to Art on the Avenue — one of my favorite days in Del Ray.”

Alexandria Makers Market founder Alyssa Kovach has received applications from event organizers to participate as a vendor at Art on the Avenue and the Old Town and Arts and Crafts Fair.

“I’ve gotten the applications and we’re optimistically moving forward,” she said. “I take a lot of responsibility for people’s safety, so I want to keep our makers safe. I want to keep the public safe. I don’t want to rush into it until I know that it’s the right thing to do.”

The Del Ray Business Association organizes Art on the Avenue, and DRBA President Lauren Fisher said that such an event is part of a collective healing process for the community.

“As restrictions begin to life, the business community is excited to gradually start hosting live events,” Fisher said. “I believe that both the businesses and citizens are ready to engage in familiar community traditions, which is undoubtably, play an integral role in the collective healing process. We are especially excited about the scheduled return of one of our signature annual events, Art on the Avenue in October. Of course, we will continue to monitor the health risk to our community and will make decisions in accordance with city, state, and federal guidelines.”

Photo via Art on the Avenue/Facebook

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