SHARONVILLE, OH — Ohio is loosening crowd size restrictions as the state continues to navigate reopening during the coronavirus pandemic.
Convention centers now have the go-ahead to hold events, and the Sharonville Convention Center was the first in the Tri-State to reopen.
The convention center reopening for the first time in three months is not just impacting the people who work there, it has a ripple effect on businesses across this community.
Jim Downton is the executive director of the Sharonville Convention Center. He said he wanted to reopen the right way.
“All of our employees and staff are required to wear a mask throughout their shift. We also take temperatures before you come in so we ensure the staff is not sick, and we do our part as well as the hand-washing every hour on the hour,” Downton said.
The state didn't issue specific safety guidelines for Convention Centers. Instead, each event must uphold standards for that industry. This weekend’s event, a gun show, is considered retail.
The convention center spent thousands on signage for new rules, hoping to prevent another outbreak and another shutdown.
“We’re very happy to be open, even if it’s in the limited capacity. It’s the first step to recovery,” Downton said.
He said conventions will help fill hotels opening later this summer, like Delta Hotels by Marriott opening in August.
Downton said it will also bring more customers to nearby restaurants, like the brewery opening next door on Wednesday.
Mark Conley, an organizer from this weekend’s gun show, said convention vendors are feeling a lot of relief.
“These guys have been out of work for three months, all my exhibitors, and this is going to help them out a lot -- they were suffering pretty bad,” Conley said.
The Sharonville Convention Center had to recover after more than 100 events canceled during the three-month closure.
“We see that recovery taking a long time -- maybe a year, more than a year -- to get back to where we were before the coronavirus shutdown,” Downton said.
For now, the Duke Energy Convention Center and Northern Kentucky Convention Center remain closed.