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Banquet halls, convention centers cope with stage 3 mitigations

Safety protocols limit gatherings to 10 people in the lodge’s banquet rooms.
Published: Nov. 26, 2020 at 9:45 AM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - “I feel like I’m a two-year-old in a way, that I want to throw a tantrum and say I want to have my events!”

Mary Campbell spends her days consumed in frustration as Event Manager at Forest Hills Lodge in Loves Park. Under the state of Illinois’ tier three mitigation plan. Restaurant owners scrape by on curbside pickup or delivery, but banquet halls and event venues are out of luck.

“We have plummeted, just like many other event businesses. We have dropped 82 percent this year,” Campbell said.

Safety protocols limit gatherings to 10 people in the lodge’s banquet rooms. Campbell is rescheduling major events like weddings and conventions well into next year and says the fallout from those postponements to trickle down to other area businesses.

“They typically need a hotel room, they typically will eat out at other businesses, so it has a big trickle effect,” Campbell said.

The ebbs and flows of the pandemic also forces venues to get creative and offer options to their customers. Al Castro-Giovanni reinvented the Giovanni’s experience with something called Gio-Events. It’s event planning and catering services that help people celebrate milestones with intimate gatherings full of quality time.

“You find different joys of why you do things, and before, it was seeing that person eat and smile. Now it’s handing them their food, knowing that you’re taking care of them at home,” Castro-Giovanni said.

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