Area event venues look forward to possible COVID-19 capacity guidelines update

Area event venues look forward to possible COVID-19 capacity guidelines update

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The owners and staff at area event venues were encouraged about the recent announcement of a possible increase in capacity limits. 

On Feb. 16, Gov. Ned Lamont announced potential steps toward new guidelines beginning March 19 that will allow indoor events to have 50 percent capacity up to 100 people and outdoor capacity with a cap at 200 people. 

Denise Rivera, owner of Titanium Theater in Southington, is looking forward to larger events again. 

“Opening up to 100 capacity is going to help my business tremendously,” she said. “I had to cancel 70 events in the last year. It put me in debt financially.” 

Rivera said with the previous capacity at 25, people preferred to have events at home. Titanium Theater, which has three rooms, hosts weddings, engagement parties, baby showers and birthdays. 

Since the announcement, Rivera has received a handful of phone calls, mostly new customers mixed with those who had postponed events during the pandemic.

According to the state website, Connecticut remains in the top four states for vaccination distribution with 66 percent of the population over 75 and 23 percent of the population ages 65 to 74, vaccinated. Within the next week, the state is expected to receive a 22 percent increase in vaccine. 

Testa’s Banquet Facility in Southington has been open for over 35 years, hosting events like weddings and corporate banquets. During the pandemic, the facility offered catering platters for holidays and events like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Super Bowl Sunday.

“It’s wonderful, we’re glad we’re opening,” owner Enzo Testa said. “We’ve been shut down since last year.”

The Aqua Turf Club in Southington held its last event in December 2020. The facility is known for weddings, banquets and other events.

“We’ve been open this whole time. We have been scheduling and rescheduling all along,” said Bobby Thompson, a manager at Aqua Turf. “Calls have been coming in slowly.”

Laura Colella, owner of II Monticello Banquet Facility and Catering in Meriden, is not yet convinced the change will happen and doesn’t want to get her hopes up just yet. 

“I hope it does happen,” she said. “If the rates go down, which they are going down and people are getting the vaccine.”

Il Monticello has hosted some parties with the max at 25 people but said she had to cancel 175 parties since last March, including three proms. Like other venues, she is going through financial troubles.

“People got grants, we didn’t get anything, nothing,” Colella said. “I still have to pay my taxes to Meriden. I got one $5,000 grant, but it went that fast.”

Colella said with no financial assistance from the town or state she has been paying for a lot of things out of pocket and moved to offering family style meals. The Meriden Police and Fire Department have been supportive and she has met a lot of new customers. 

Monticello currently has three proms scheduled for this spring, but no decision has been made on whether they will be held.  

Although the change isn’t scheduled to go in effect until mid-March, Lamont said he wanted to give event planners enough time to make plans. Thee changes are dependent on the continued stability of COVID metrics.  

fwilliams@record-journal.com203-317-2373Twitter: @faith_williams2

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