Residents, Doctors Concerned About COVID-19 Spreading At Las Olas Art Fair This Weekend
A group of concerned residents who live in downtown, and medical doctors, have urged the city and Broward County that the festival could become a spreader event. Meanwhile, the event producer argues there are ample safety measures in place.
There's this push and pull as more things start to reopen, between people who believe large events can be put on safely by now — and people who believe it's still too dangerous while the pandemic rages on without a vaccine.
The 33rd Annual Las Olas Art Fair, in Fort Lauderdale, is currently in the middle of this tug of war in Broward County.
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Stan Eichelbaum is an active downtown resident with the group FLAGG: Fort Lauderdale Alliance for Good Government. He said he loves art festivals — but he's more concerned for the public safety of service workers in downtown and the annual influx of older visitors.
"The Christmas season and the snowbird season are upon us. We don't want to blow it apart," he said. "This is a spreader type of an environment. It is very scary still."
A group of concerned residents and medical doctors signed a letter and asked Eichelbaum to send it to city and county leaders. In it, people expressed their main concerns:
"To not postpone this event would lead to a huge reversal of so much of the progress that you have achieved," the letter stated.
The Las Olas Art Fair normally draws about 10,000 people in a typical weekend, but this year the producer, Howard Alan Events, is expecting 3,000 attendees. That's according to event publicist Elizabeth Dashiell.
In addition to fewer artists participating this year and ten feet of space in between each of the artist booths, Dashiell argued the outdoor event will be roped off and letting in a limited number of people per hour.
"We will have people there monitoring, ensuring that the groups of people are having safe social distancing," Dashiell said. "So, this isn't like the art fair of years past where you see just hundreds and hundreds and thousands of people all crammed together."
A spokesperson for Broward County wrote WLRN in an email, saying the art fair met the county's safety's requirements as they're laid out in current emergency orders.
Broward County's average coronavirus positivity rate for the past seven days hovers just above three percent, according to data from the county's aggregate dashboard.