HAMPTON, Va. - The Vanguard Brewery and live entertainment venue held its first large, outdoor event Friday night that included a live band.
Music from The Deloreans reverberated through the parking lot. Many people were eager to shake off the quarantine boredom.
Friends Sharron Jones and Kathy Arnaud said the event was their first outing at an event since the pandemic started.
“Exciting,” said Jones. “We got tired of being shut in, and it’s nice to see people.”
Co-owner Randy Thomas said his special permit from Hampton allows him to have up to 999 people in the parking lot. State COVID guidelines limit him to have half that amount, but he’s playing it safe, capping the event to only 250 people.
“There’s a lot of pent up demand from customers,” said Thomas. “You have people ready to go out and do what they’re allowed to, and then those who are far more cautious.”
Thomas said they’re taking other precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.
“We have masks available and ask everyone if you’re not eating or drinking to wear a mask,” he said.
Specially-designed squares were drawn up in the parking lot to practice social distancing. The idea is to have two people to a square and use the unofficial walkways to get around.
“We’re ready for the normalcy to come back,” said Jones.
As lockdown orders start to ease and more people gather in groups, health experts advise not to let your guard down.
“It is still here,” said Dr. Steven Pearman, the VP of primary care with Sentara Healthcare. “The COVID is going to be around for a while, and it’s still as contagious as it was when it first started; we just know more about it now.”
With safety in mind, Thomas plans to hold outdoor events every Friday. Thomas said all the proceeds on ticket sales go to the band. With food and beverage sales down 75%, he said the live bands help bring in people.
“Having a concert venue is a big part of our business model,” he said.
Eventually, Thomas said people will sign liability waivers for the risk of exposure to the virus. Either way, he just wants everyone to sit, relax and enjoy the music.