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Columbia event and concert venues deciding how to move forward with lack of restrictions


After the city of Columbia announced there will likely be no new health order after the current one expires on May 12, businesses are left with the choice to keep social distancing and masking restrictions or not.

The event industry was one of the first and hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Megan McConachie with the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau said having no health order gives event planners and venues more flexibility moving forward.

Not all events, venues and businesses will look the same come May 12, and McConachie said the bureau is working to make sure travelers and event planners understand things will look different.

"I think as we move forward, everyone is going to have to feel out their new comfort zone, so there may be a little bit of an adjustment period, but I think most are going to be understanding that they just have to be kind of flexible as they move through their visit," McConachie said.

She said we will likely continue to see many events keep restrictions in place.

"It's definitely not business as usual, we're just going to have to keep adjusting just like we have been for the past year and hopefully those adjustments will keep sending us in the right direction," McConachie said.

The venue director of Rose Music Hall and The Blue Note Mike Nolan said it will be taking a phased-in approach back to normal, keeping the venues' current policies in place for the month of May, increase capacity in June, then hopefully back to normal later this summer.

"We're going to play it pretty safe the first couple of weeks," Nolan said. "We're not going to rush anything, we are going to take out own phased approach like everyone else has been doing"

This news could attract more concerts to the area

"I think it's going to just increase the confidence of bands, anybody who may be their agent booked them a show and maybe the band was apprehensive, I think that will go away, and anyone who is one the fence will see that Columbia and Boone County are ready to rock," Nolan said.

McConachie agreed the lack of restrictions could play a role and getting events back to the area, and venues and consumers start to feel more comfortable planning larger-scale events. Bring large-scale events like football games and music festivals back to full capacity is the goal.

"If we can have all of those in an environment that's safe, but without health restrictions, that's really going to put our travel and tourism industry on the right path towards recovery," McConachie said.

This news was both good and scary for Nolan, after more than a year of the pandemic

"I'm not going to lie, I think right after the happiness I was like, oh man, it's scary thinking of going back to normal, not that I'm not ready for it, it's just we've gotten so used to this pandemic world," Nolan said.

The University of Missouri said they will continue to follow the health department's recommendations on social distancing and masking at their events. Mizzou Athletics told ABC17 News it's working on a plan and will likely have more information about their plan for sporting events next week.

Watch ABC17 News at 9 and 10 for the full story.

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Connor Hirsch

Connor Hirsch reports for the weekday night shows, as well as Sunday nights.


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