FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Known as the “largest in-water boat show on the seven seas,” the 61st Annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show kicked off Wednesday.
This year’s show is scaled back a bit from shows in previous years and has enhanced COVID safety precautions in place.
“Everyone is socially distanced and wearing a facial covering, a mask. It’s enforced throughout this whole event. We want to make sure we have this economic impact but we want to make sure the health, safety, and well-being of our people are protected,” said Broward Mayor Dale Holness.
The show is one of South Florida’s biggest moneymakers. In a normal year it would have an economic impact of $1.3 billion. This time around, it will likely be less. However, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Frank Trantalis said it’s getting people back to work and the economy moving.
“The people of this community understand the importance of trying to get back on our feet, putting people to work. For over eight thousand people, their jobs depend on this show. Why is that important to us, we have learned to co-exist with this virus,” said Trantalis.
Thanks to COVID-19, the show has been “reimagined,” as organizers call it. Eighty-five percent of the entire show is outdoors, spread out over 90 acres, and six marinas. There’s also an attendance limit of 24,500 people.
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This is the first large scale public event since the shutdown due to the pandemic. Organizers, county, and city leaders came up with a 44-page protocol on how to pull it off while still following safety guidelines.
“It will serve as a template for other events that may want to take place in our commUnity going forward until a vaccine is discovered,” said Trantalis.
Holness and Trantalis said they’ll also be keeping an eye on off-site activities, like bars and restaurants.
“In our restaurants, we’re still going to require the standards that were set before, social distancing, people six feet apart, facial coverings, all the sanitary protocols. We are also still going to enforce the rules. We’ll issue citations,” said Holness.
Other changes to the show this year include multiple entrances that have been widened to disperse crowds. They’ve also instituted a contactless ticketing system. Those going to the show must pre-purchase tickets online and use their mobile device to scan at one of the show’s multiple entrances.
At each entry point, every person will have their temperature checked through a contactless thermal imaging system. Following CDC recommendations, anyone registering a temperature of 100.4 F or above will not be allowed to enter.
The show’s six miles of floating docks have been widened to widths of up to 30 feet. All docks are marked with circulation paths and directional arrows to encourage social distancing.
Hygiene stations are installed throughout the show’s seven locations. Enhanced deep cleaning with disinfection will take place each hour on all high touch points during show operating hours. All show areas will be deep cleaned overnight.
With all the safety measures in place, the question is how comfortable are guests going to be in the crowd?
“Tell me your comfort level being here today,” CBS4’s Ted Scouten as Nick Roe.
“Medium,” he replied with a laugh. “There’s definitely a lot more hand sanitizer stations, theres less people here than last year.”
Most people wore masks. Those who were not were told to mask up.
“I don’t think anybody is 100 percent comfortable. But I think everybody that’s here is taking the proper precautions to be here,” said Mikaela Mattsson.
Click Here for more information on the show and to purchase tickets.