Banquet halls reopen after pandemic shutdowns but guidelines present challenges

TOLEDO (WTVG) - Now that Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has given the green light to mass gatherings, a lot of facilities that hold weddings, meetings, and banquets are hoping to restart their businesses.

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The doors at the Pinnacle banquet facility in Maumee have been shuttered for more than three months because of the ban on mass gatherings. Owner Mark Thees says he’s in the process of getting things reopened and training his staff for the new safety procedures.

“The rules and regulations have been changing constantly, so just because there's no dancing now, doesn't mean there won't be any dancing in September,” he says.

At this point, the rules do not allow dancing at gatherings and the tables of no more than ten people have to be at least six feet apart. Venues like the Pinnacle should have no problem because it holds up to 700 guests, but that’s not the case for all banquet locations.

Brooke Lauber-Cobb owns “Bea For The Day,” a wedding consulting business, and she’s been working non-stop with her bridal couples to arrange their weddings. She says that social distancing rules mean a space that would normally be booked for 300 guests has to be limited to 150 people.

Additional restrictions have many couples still thinking twice about a summer date.

“When you go to a reception, people stand around waiting for the bar, they stand around for the cake cutting ... they're standing in large groups of people," says Lauber-Cobb, "And are they going to have to stay at their own tables while they do their first dance? And what does it look like on the dance floor?”

While most couples have decided to push their dates back until 2021, other banquets and meetings are going ahead.

“We're able to call people back," says Dolly Keyes, the event manager at the Toledo Country Club, "get graduations going at the club and bring in a lot of meetings that can come to the club, so that's great.”

When it comes to enforcing the new restrictions, the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department says it falls to law enforcement and, if the facility holds a catering license, the Health Department.