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Elkins event organizers urged to apply for permits early

ELKINS — With what is usually the summer events season fast approaching, Elkins officials are urging event organizers to carefully consider the viability of their planned events under social-distancing requirements and other CDC recommendations for reducing the risk of COVID-19 spread, a City of Elkins press release stated.

Applications to the city for special WVABCA licenses or events on public property must include detailed plans for complying with these requirements and recommendations. Because these additional considerations will lengthen the review and approval process, organizers should submit event applications as early as possible.

“Past approval is no guarantee that a given event will be allowed this year if safety concerns can’t be satisfactorily addressed,” said Jessica Sutton, the Elkins city clerk. “As important as restoring some level of our usual economic activity may be, we have to make sure we aren’t supporting conditions that could cause a drastic spike in the local infection rate.”

In reviewing WVABCA and event applications, Elkins officials will be looking for information about how organizers plan to enable and enforce social distancing, provide handwashing and/or sanitization stations, ensure the use of protective equipment, and other steps that may be deemed necessary to keep attendees and city residents and businesses as safe as possible. If proposed measures are found to be insufficient, organizers may be required to submit a modified plan.

Before organizers start the application process, however, Sutton advises them to look at whether their events would be allowed under current restrictions and not to assume that all such restrictions would be lifted in time.

“Under the governor’s comeback plan, steps are being taken toward lessening restrictions on some businesses and restoring certain activities,” said Sutton. “But these are small steps and the governor could pause or reverse those steps at any time.”

Regardless of progress under the governor’s plan, certain restrictions and recommendations are not likely to be lifted at all, she pointed out.

“We have been following and will continue to follow the guidance of national, state and local health officials,” said Sutton. “Based on the information they are providing, it’s well understood that, no matter how much reopening we’re able to do, the virus isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. That means the need for social distancing and for vulnerable populations to remain isolated won’t go away either, which will make some kinds of events nearly impossible and may drastically reduce attendance at others.”

Sutton points out that a local increase in COVID-19 cases could spell danger not only for the health of community members but for continued progress toward reopening.

“There are already a few organizations that have cancelled or made significant changes to their planned events,” said Sutton. “As much as we’d all like to have a normal summer, the pandemic conditions mean that proceeding with an event involving large crowds, especially events that typically attract people from outside the area or even from other states, is probably just not the most responsible decision under the current circumstances.”

Sutton encouraged anyone with questions about summer events to get in touch with her office.

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