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Local business weighs in on effect of mass gathering restrictions

JOPLIN, Mo. – The mass gathering restriction was on the mind of some event center owners in the city.

The city has been in Phase Two, Step Four of the plan. That step removes occupancy restrictions for all businesses, but still requires social distancing to be in place. It also places a cap on mass gatherings at 250.

It’s that restriction, that’s made it hard for businesses, specifically event planners, like Athena Events, to get by. Athena’s President, Fallon Anawalt, says she’s had to get creative to survive. “I’ve been helping with a lot of the fundraisers in town, they’ve been doing virtual auctions or like maybe a semi-virtual event to kinda get around some of those restrictions, you know, we’ve seen weddings happen and they just cut their guest list, we’ve seen people pause and postpone because they can’t have as many people as they wish.”

Anawalt says she’s hopeful for this upcoming year. “Luckily, we’ve already seen a pent up demand for this year, so that’s nice, that I think we’re going to be able to recover some of that loss from 2020.”

Anawalt says the council’s decision could have a major impact on that demand and the potential customers. “Because they see you know, that they’re making changes and they feel like this is the best interest of the community, so it also just opens people’s minds up to be open to the idea of even having a small gathering.”

Not everyone in Joplin thinks it’s a good idea to lift the restrictions. One resident we spoke with says he feels the city should have waited an additional 45 days at minimum to allow more of the population to receive their vaccination particularly with students returning to full-time school.

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