Benton Convention Center is back open for business, though the number of people the events center can host will be limited because of coronavirus restrictions.
So far, the convention center has hosted pregame breakfasts for Wake Forest University's football team, but more events are possible now that the convention center is back in operation, said Grant Minnix, the director of operations for Benton.
"We want to get things going in our city," Minnix said. "We are reopen by the governor's order, meaning that we can have no more than 30% capacity or 100 people."
Under the state’s Phase 3 provisions, Benton Convention Center can accommodate 100 seated people each in the Winston and Salem ballrooms and in Piedmont Hall on the lower level. Breakout rooms have lesser capacity, depending on their size.
To protect the health of attendees and event staff, the convention center has increased the number of housekeeping staff and invested in additional sanitizing equipment to ensure prompt sanitizing of meeting spaces.
As well, all employees must complete a 10-question wellness check every day before they clock in and wear masks and gloves, and other protective gear as necessary.
The convention center has also:
- Added 60 hand-sanitizing stations throughout the center.
- Acquired 50 Plexiglass food shields.
- Placed rope and stanchions to encourage one-way traffic in public spaces.
- Installed floor signs encouraging social distancing throughout the convention center.
- Placed “Mask Required” signs on all exterior doors.
- Placed signs reminding guests that they must be in seats except to enter, leave, visit the restroom, and obtain food or drink.
- Placed “stop signs” at all main doors stating the symptoms of COVID-19 and asking visitors to not enter the building if they have the symptoms.
- Placed signs in all restrooms reminding guests to wash their hands.
- Placed 12 large signs throughout the building to reinforce best practices during the pandemic.
As an extra service, the convention center is producing a video for event planners to show how the meeting rooms will be set up, how food will be served and how hybrid meetings can be held, to assure event planners that the convention center is a safe place to eat and meet.
A shorter version of the video will be created for meeting organizers to send to their attendees, Minnix said.
“We are excited to again be holding events,” Minnix said. “Our watchwords are ‘trust and preparedness.’ We’ve worked diligently to put measures in place so that our guests trust that we are taking their safety seriously. Now that we’re open again we’ll be ramping up our marketing efforts in the coming months so that the Benton can resume its traditional role of being one of the drivers of the local economy.”
Assistant City Manager Ben Rowe said because the Benton is only just now opening, it may be some time before many events can be booked.
"I know that the marketing staff for the Twin City Quarter will be reaching out and trying to contact prospects," Rowe said.
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