WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Governor Wolf Monday revised COVID mitigation orders and lifted out-of-state restrictions.
A huge sigh of relief to local business owners struggling through the pandemic. Managers of outdoor and indoor events say they’re hopeful for the first time in months.
Gov. Wolf’s announcement means we’ll be seeing a lot more real life fans in the audience at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
Will Beekman, General Manager of Mohegan Sun Arena says they had to refund $3 million in tickets last year due to the pandemic. He says the revised mitigation order is “a step in the right direction.”
“We were at five percent, so for a 10,000 capacity venue we could only have 500 people as of this morning,” Beekman said.
Beekman says Governor Wolf’s latest announcement is welcome news. The newly revised restrictions limit indoor events and gatherings to 15 percent of maximum capacity. Beekman says the difference is about 1,000 people.
“Now with the restrictions going to 15 percent obviously, we could do more like 1,500 now so definitely a step in the right direction,” Beekman said.
Beekman explained it’s still not enough to hold concerts and family shows but it does make a big difference for hockey, allowing real-life fans to watch the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in person starting March 19th.
“We wanted to make sure the building has everything done from touchless restrooms to all the other improvements they’re making over there, to make it as safe as possible for the fans,” Penguins president/CEO Jeff Barrett said.
Now seats are blocked off to keep parties separated and tickets are being sold in groups. Beekman says he thinks the concert industry will make a comeback in the fall or winter. He says their calendar is already packed from September to December with potential acts.
“They’re waiting to see if we can get back to a meaningful capacity for those to make sense. This morning we were at five percent now we’re at 15 percent. That’s great. I’m hoping maybe by May we’ll be up to 25 percent. Who knows but we just need to continue to go in a positive direction,” Beekman said.
The arena’s first event with 15 percent capacity will be the high school basketball championships March 11-13, exactly one year since the state shut down.
Governor Wolf also eliminated out-of-state travel restrictions effective immediately.