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Many event venues won't open to full capacity

Posted at 10:10 PM, Mar 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-05 03:15:41-05

SALT LAKE CITY — With Governor Spencer Cox's announcement Thursday to loosen restrictions on public gatherings and events, does that mean places like event venues and movie theaters will reopen to pre-pandemic crowds? The answer is complicated.

Dreamscapes at The Gateway is meant to pull visitors into a different world. The immersive art experience is so popular, Utah Arts Alliance Executive Director Derek Dyer said it sells out every weekend.

"It's kind of like a dreamland. It's just beautiful, and just a really fun experience," he said.

With limited capacity and time tickets, Dreamspaces can only let so many people through at once - but on Thursday, Dyer found out they could change that.

"We're very excited to hear about Governor Cox's announcement today," he said. "So, we are able to open up some more tickets."

Read: Vaccines available to Utahns 50+; more counties move to 'moderate' level

With venues now able to reopen at full capacity (with mask-wearing, of course), certainly it's good news for businesses, right?

Well, not exactly according to some event venues.

Yes, they can fill up their spaces with people shoulder-to-shoulder. But, as Sky SLC General Manager Steven Brensike explained, there's a catch-- and it creates a bit of a Catch 22 for them.

He explained how he called the health department Thursday to clarify the confusing twist.

"They are saying [we] have to have each group six feet from each other, if they want to be able to eat and drink," he said.

While Sky SLC doesn't serve food, Brensike said, they do serve drinks. And that means, anyone with a drink needs to keep their distance from others, and stay at tables when drinking said drinks.

Read: Utah businesses celebrate move back to full capacity

With that being the case, he described how difficult it would be to host a music show and ban drinking, or force everyone to stay at tables. At that point, full capacity is a no-go.

Not to mention, Brensike talked about how artists just don't want to book shows right now, and no one is touring. Because of that, the venue will remain closed.

"It's still hard for us to be able to provide 100% capacity with people that want to enjoy themselves. But they really can't," Brensike said.

With that same food and drink rule in mind, movie theaters like Larry H. Miller Megaplex Theaters told FOX 13 they'll continue to keep groups six feet from each other, to allow for social distancing as well as for eating popcorn. They won't be increasing capacity within theaters or expanding ticket sales.

Larry H. Miller Megaplex Theaters follow guidelines from the National Assocation of Theater Operators. So, as long as national guidelines don't change, Megaplex Theaters won't either.

Even though Dreamscapes is opening additional ticket sales, Dyer indicated that they won't be going crazy on capacity.

"We're still going to probably be on the more precautious side. We're definitely not going to have a big free-for-all," he said. "We're still going to be very safe, and take this situation very seriously."

Read: Here's how to register for a COVID-19 vaccination in Utah