Large gatherings at 17th St. Farmers Market concerning business owners


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Large gatherings and events planned at the 17th Street Farmers Market are concerning business owners.

Helen Emerson is the Vice President of the Shockoe Bottom Neighborhood Association.

“We love that Parks and Rec is trying to make something out of this market during this pandemic, but we also think that maybe this summer isn’t the time and let’s just wait to see what happens at the beginning of next year,” Emerson said.

Emerson finds Wednesday Night Yoga worrisome.

“We haven’t seen that much social distancing with the Wednesday night yoga so far. It seems that the yoga mats are 2 feet apart, not six,” Emerson said.

On Saturday, there’s a sold-out event planned with 150 people called a ‘Silent Summer Headphone Party.‘ People will dance with headphones on.

“The question is once people start dancing, is Parks and Recs going to be there making sure they have the mask on? Are they going to be coming onto the patios pulling the masks off, wanting to use the restrooms like they did two weeks ago, which to be honest, was just poorly run,” Emerson said.

The City of Richmond Parks, Recreation, and Community Facilities Service Manager, Priscilla J. Wright, said there will be safety measures in place. This includes:

  • Temperature checks
  • Hand sanitizing stations
  • Flood lights to the port-a-potties to discourage guests using business bathrooms.
  • Security to remind people to wear masks and social distance.

Havana’s assistant manager and event coordinator Katherine Cryer-Hassett said the large events need to wait.

“I don’t know if right now is the best time. Currently, we’re not having our salsa night which used to be everything Thursday. We’re waiting until things go back to normal,” Cryer-Hassett said.

S. 17th Street & E. Main Street. (File photo)

The restaurant is even making their own sacrifices.

“We’re already hurting, we already wish that we could be having salsa, it’s a lucrative night, like easily every month we lose thousands of dollars in sales from not having that event,” Cryer-Hassett said.

The restaurant can’t afford to lose any more business because of large events.

“I think I’m just nervous it’ll make our guests uncomfortable and not feel comfortable coming back if they see a large event,” Cryer-Hassett said.

Locals enjoy drinks in Shockoe Bottom. (File photo)

8News received this statement from The City of Richmond Parks, Recreation, and Community Facilities in regard to the concerns of businesses:

“Their concerns show that they’re invested in the community, invested in the space, which we completely welcome. Being community-minded will lead to a safer, healthier city! We welcome the dialogue and will continue to ensure the safety of all in the space. The restaurants we’ve talked to about the event are looking forward to it.”

Statement from The City of Richmond Parks, Recreation, and Community Facilities

Under Governor Ralph Northam’s Forward Virginia Phase Three guidelines,  groups of 250 or less are allowed to gather as long as masks are worn and there’s social distancing.

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