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As COVID-19 restrictions loosen, event venues in Hampton Roads in limbo

The 250-person capacity for indoor venues didn't change when Virginia Governor Ralph Northam relaxed some restrictions. Many venues are holding out for the future.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — "We've seen a lot of emptiness in the building," said Megan Boyle, Marketing Manager for the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts. 

Boyle noted noted the venue in Town Center of Virginia Beach had to reschedule just about everything since the pandemic started.

SevenVenues in Norfolk has found itself in the same situation. 

Assistant Department Director Rob Henson said that calendar movement has become the norm for his staff. 

"We spent 8 to 10 months just moving shows, I think we moved over 700 shows," Henson said. "I'm looking at my calendar here, we've got 4 to 6 events per day for the foreseeable future."

Both the Sandler Center and Chrysler Hall, which is part of SevenVenues, get a brief return to normalcy this week. The Virginia Symphony Orchestra performs at each one, as well as the Ferguson Center for the Arts in Newport News, for the first time in more than a year. 

"We're really excited," said Boyle. "We're in limited capacity, but we're excited to see everyone."

Henson said the limited capacity of 250 people for indoor venues that's part of statewide COVID-19 restrictions keeps them from getting back to a regular schedule. He explained that shows that tour nationally cannot be successful with reduced capacity.

Boyle and Henson said people who attend the performances with smaller audiences will find coronavirus precautions in place at the venues.