Will outdoor events occur this spring, summer in New Jersey?
They had essentially no shot in 2020 but will your favorite festival, carnival or street fair be back in 2021?
Experts and officials don't have a crystal ball but they are optimistic for a much more active spring and summer outdoors, compared to a 2020 warm season that was virtually decimated by the threat of COVID-19.
"We've learned a lot, and immunizations have definitely helped and will continue to help," said Dr. Lewis Nelson, chair of the department of emergency medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.
The outdoors, with an ambient breeze, humidity, and a better ability to distance oneself from others, he said, creates an opportunity for towns and organizers to move forward with planned or new events — but those events will still look different compared to pre-pandemic days.
"Outdoors with masks on, and outdoors with reasonable social distancing — I don't see any reason why we wouldn't be able to host outdoor festivals," Nelson said.
Crowd flow into an event, meanwhile, may be monitored, or potentially require registration beforehand.
One wild card, Nelson added, is the potential impact from new coronavirus strains that may not be as vulnerable to current vaccinations.
In early February, Gov. Phil Murphy told our sister station WPG that events such as beach concerts and the Atlantic City Air Show (scheduled for Aug. 18) aren't out of the question, as long as the Garden State meets its vaccination goals.
The Exit Zero Jazz Festival has all intentions to run nine hours of live music for three days in late April. The Cape May event will utilize outdoor venues to make it happen.
The typically-indoors Atlantic City Beer & Music Festival is slated, as of now, to operate for three days outdoors in June at Bader Field.
"The move to Bader Field will allow the festival producer to host the Festival in the open air while creating a level of social distancing to support celebrating some of the country’s most savory brews," organizers said on the event's website. "While the festival's focus is craft beer and celebrations, festival producers will put processes in place to limit unnecessary contact while creating the fun festival environment so may have become accustomed to over the years."
New Jersey's large sports and entertainment venues received the green light on Monday to open at limited capacity come March.