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Atlantic County Commissioner Caren Fitzpatrick. (Photo: Facebook.)

District 2 Democrats urge Murphy to loosen restrictions on conventions, trade shows

By Nikita Biryukov, April 29 2021 4:17 pm

Democratic candidates in the second legislative district called renewed calls for Gov. Phil Murphy to loosen COVID-19 restrictions that effectively bar trade shows and conventions Thursday.

“I know how important meetings, conventions, and trade shows are to the economic livelihood of Atlantic City and the surrounding area. As an Atlantic County Commissioner, I believe it is crucial to champion the unique amenities Atlantic City has to offer and work to ensure we are not left out of reopening plans,” said Atlantic County Commissioner Caren Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick is seeking an Assembly seat in the second legislative district. Assemblymen Vince Mazzeo (D-Northfield) and John Armato (D-Buena) called for Murphy to lift those restrictions in letters sent in March and September.

Mazzeo is running for the district’s State Senate seat. The incumbent, State Sen. Chris Brown (R-Ventnor City) is not seeking re-election.

“Conventions and trade shows account for $1.9 billion in revenue for Atlantic City, and the Convention Center, hotels and local businesses surrounding the area greatly depend on this revenue to survive,” Mazzeo said.

Though indoor gathering limits for large venues are laxer than general limits, those apply only to facilities with at fixed seating capacity of 2,500 or more. Such facilities are allowed to operate at 20% capacity.

While those limits don’t expressly prohibit conventions, they do limit the number of eligible venues. Conventions where attendees mill about and interact with large amounts of people will likely face regulatory hurdles.

That means they’ll at best be limited to 250 individuals starting May 10. At worst, they’d be subject to the 25-person limit on general indoor gatherings.

“By wearing masks, social distancing, comprehensive cleaning protocols, and using skilled labor who have completed nationally recognized COVID-19 preparedness training, there is no reason why conventions and trade shows cannot gather under the same guidelines as large sports and entertainment venues,” Armato said.

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