KETTERING – Plans to open the Fraze Pavilion this summer involve a variety of issues impacted by COVID-19 mandates and metrics, some of which have shifted in recent weeks.
Kettering is targeting a July 1 reopening for the city-owned 4,300-seat outdoor venue, and officials are encouraged by a growing coronavirus vaccine availability and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s easing restrictions for outdoor venues.
Uncertainty remains, however, about a lineup of events and concerts, the sale of food and beverages, and what protocols may be required by summer, which “in COVID time…is a long way away,” said Dan Suffoletto of Public Health – Dayton Montgomery County.
Kettering has “spent the last several months lining up possible performers while closely monitoring COVID conditions and protocols,” City Manager Mark Schwieterman said in email.
Recruiting efforts to fill seasonal Fraze jobs are underway. And soon “multiple resolutions” will go before city council “that will allow decisions to be made” based on updated state and local guidelines for the Fraze season to open this summer, Schwieterman added.
Kettering officials are “cautiously optimistic based on what’s going on with the vaccines and even what the governor said” recently, Parks Recreation and Cultural Arts Director May Beth O’Dell said.
“I think we’re all kind of holding tight and we think by the end of April we’ll have a way better view of how we will approach our summer season,” she added.
The 2020 Fraze season was canceled, as were other popular Kettering summer activities due to the coronavirus.
DeWine earlier this month amended an order to allow outdoor entertainment venues to admit up to 30% of their fixed, seated capacity.
He also said all COVID-19 health orders will be lifted when Ohio’s cases drop to 50 cases per 100,000 people for two weeks. Just prior to his announcement, the state’s ratio had dipped to 179 per 100,000 population, about 550 fewer than it was in early December.
The July 1 target is not only for the Fraze, but “the entire season activities,” according to O’Dell.
Kettering traditionally has held several free festivals and events at Lincoln Park Civic Commons next door.
“We take great care in making sure that we offer a wide variety of events” at both venues, Schwieterman said. “We will continue to monitor protocols and guidance and respond accordingly throughout the year.”
The downward trend in COVID cases “is encouraging, so we are hopeful,” but PHDMC recommendations are “subject to change at any time,” Suffoletto said.
So “there’s multiple protocols that – if they stay in place – would give us target A, if they don’t stay in place would give us Target B,” O’Dell said. “How we decide to manage our season will probably be dictated by how we’re allowed to manage our season.
“I’m optimistic of what options we’re going to be able to select,” she added. “But there are multiple players in this. There’s our entertainers, there’s our customers, there’s our employees. We have to ensure our facility is safe.
“That’s what we’re working on right now,” O’Dell said. “We are doing a lot of preplanning, having a couple of options that we can select.”
Public Health – Dayton Montgomery County is asking all venues to ensure:
•All staff and patrons wear face masks correctly at all times, unless they are actively eating or drinking.
•Anyone drinking beverages or consuming food remain seated.
•Maintain proper social distancing between seated parties.
•Maintain proper social distancing at the entrance and concession lines.
•Restrooms be cleaned more frequently and soap, water and disposable towels be maintained at all times.
•Have a flexible plan in case of event cancellation.