CORONAVIRUS

Thousands To Attend Conference At Salt Palace

Nov 6, 2020, 6:53 PM | Updated: 8:47 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Some large events are still able to move forward, including this weekend’s Pinners Utah conference, which could see up to 20,000 people.

Organizers said the event came to Utah after being called off in four other cities. Two of those cities were willing to have the conference come, but organizers didn’t feel comfortable.

A big reason why they believe it will work safely at the Salt Palace was that there’s lots of space to keep household groups apart.

“It hurts just like my heart, because I love being around people, and making that in-person connection, and being able to talk to them, and hear their stories and get to know them, and this is finally bringing me back to that,” said Courtney Rich.

Rich, of Cake By Courtney, is among the vendors who’ve had to cancel classes for customers. 

She also said it’s harder to sell products without these conferences.

Courtney Rich. (KSL-TV)

“They’re so important for small businesses to like connect with the community, and see people, and show their products,” Rich said. “So I’m so grateful that we’re able to do that.”

The conference is a big deal for a lot of business owners and Utah shoppers, but it comes with some pandemic-level challenges.

“The public health system is always concerned when we see people congregating, or people around those that they don’t live with, so it’s important that people wear their face coverings and maintain six feet of social distance from people that they don’t live with,” said Nicholas Rupp, spokesperson for the Salt Lake County Health Department.

Rupp said event organizers have to follow the state’s current template for events.

Nicholas Rupp, spokesperson for the Salt Lake County Health Department. (KSL-TV)

“Ideally, you’re going to be wearing a face-covering, and you’re going to have six feet around you from anyone you don’t live with,” he said.

Those are among the more important guidelines, and Rupp said as long as they can follow and enforce them — and are approved by the county health department — they can move forward.

“We’ve spread out our classrooms, but they get to connect, and they get to learn from the people that they’re following online,” said Pinners co-founder, Roxanne Bennett.

Pinners co-founder, Roxanne Bennett. (KSL-TV)

Bennett said disinfecting stations, contact tracing forms and 40-foot-wide aisles are among the additional measures they’re taking this weekend. 

“We only have a small window to use our voice, to show what we really believe in,” she said. “And keeping businesses open is what I really believe in.”

And that window may not stay open.

Officials with the Utah Department of Health said there are a lot of ideas on the table for changing that events template, but nothing solid yet.

County health inspectors do stop by events like this unannounced, to check up on things.

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Thousands To Attend Conference At Salt Palace