VB Council briefed on current coronavirus planning for special events

Something in the Water

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The fact is, coronavirus is disrupting America and the world.

Several festivals across the nation have canceled their plans because of coronavirus concerns, which prompted 10 On Your Side to ask… “What about Something in the Water?” which is scheduled for next month in Virginia Beach.

Coronavirus has officially made an appearance in Hampton Roads. On Tuesday morning, Virginia Department of Health officials released information that a couple in Virginia Beach had tested positive for the coronavirus following a cruise in Egypt.

Virginia Beach Vice Mayor Jim Wood said Tuesday he has no idea what will happen with Something in the Water at this point, but told WAVY News 10, “I’m greatly concerned about coronavirus and Something in the Water, but we have some time to deal with this and see how it plays out, but we must be vigilant.”

Wood added that if the festival were to be canceled, he would still expect a huge crowd at the Oceanfront that weekend.

The festival is scheduled to begin April 20.

As of Tuesday night, Something in the Water had a health and safety notice posted on the festival website saying the 2020 festival is still proceeding as planned.

“The safety of our artists, fans, and staff is always our top priority and planned accordingly,” the notice reads.

Virginia Beach City Council held a workshop session Tuesday afternoon. Coronavirus and special event planning was the first topic discussed.

Council was told no activities have been canceled yet unless they were done so by the private operators.

Virginia Beach City Council members heard from health officials who reminded them what is going on is a fluid event not only here, but across the country.

Virginia Beach Emergency Management Director Erin Sutton told council members there are several big events planned in the city in the coming months and none are currently canceled or postponed.

She said they are holding calls with the event organizers and providing them information on the evolving process.

“It is a discussion going on across the country. Our convention centers are talking to other convention centers across the country. Large festivals are planned, so we are having almost daily conversations with multiple event organizers,” Sutton said.

Sutton said they are assessing the special events on the following seven factors:

  1. Crowd density
  2. Nature of contact between participants
  3. Indoors or outdoors and layout of venue
  4. Whether the event will be attended by registered and non-registered participants
  5. Number of participants from countries affected by the COVID-19 outbreak
  6. Age of the participants
  7. Status of declared public health emergency

If events are canceled, it will be done by the city manager and City Council, following advice from the Department of Health.

“As we discussed in there, we are right now under a declaration of public health threat. There is another step of a public health emergency where the State Health Commissioner does have the right to issue further orders down the line, but we are not at that point yet,” Sutton told WAVY News outside the meeting.

Regardless, Wood said Something in the Water being canceled wouldn’t necessarily mean the Oceanfront wouldn’t be busy.

College Beach Weekend would still go on, drawing thousands of people.

“Eliminating the actual concert and the entertainment piece of the weekend doesn’t mean people won’t come here. People are going to come to the beach on the weekends on a regular basis. We can count on College Beach Weekend bringing tens of thousands of people visiting,” Wood said.

Wood says Something in the Water is on now, but then again, it might not be later.

“People are asking about it. I’ve received quite a bit of emails. There are questions and concerns and what we telling them, we are monitoring the situation, we are taking our cues from the health department and CDC,” Wood said.

What if Something in the Water is cancelled?

“Something in the Water is the sanctioned event for that weekend… if people came down, I don’t think there would be any events,” Wood said.

“Something in the Water is the event for that weekend. If Something in the Water is cancelled there will still be people here without events scheduled,” Vice Mayor Wood told us.

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