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Despite COVID, This Year's Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show Will Go On

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - On Thursday, the Broward County Commission gave the green light to allow the annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show to go on despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The five-day exhibit will go on under strict guidelines designed to shield the public from the coronavirus, according to its organizers.

This year's show will be held at six city venues between Oct. 28 and Nov. 1.
Before county commissioners approved a permit, one county commissioner had an issue with maximum capacity near 29,000 all at once time.

"I think we need to do some reduction," Broward Commissioner Tim Ryan said.

Organizers said the following about the upcoming show:

"At today's Broward County Commission meeting, commissioners provided clear direction to County Administrator Betha Henry to approve the show."

"We have worked diligently to develop a plan so that every person who attends the show can do so with confidence. We are grateful for the support of our elected officials, and our community."

Organizers have already released a video showing what's different this year. Like, requiring people to wear a mask, keeping a distance from others along with wider docks, and there will be more than a dozen entrance gates.

"I can assure you with 100% certainty that we will take enforcement action if it needs to be taken," Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Chris Lagerbloom said.

Meanwhile, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said, "I am extremely pleased that the County Commission gave clear direction today that the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show can take place as planned next month. It is vital that we get our economy back on track. The upcoming Boat Show is critical to accomplishing that because the show has a major positive economic impact on Fort Lauderdale by supporting local businesses and their employees. Public health will be protected. Fort Lauderdale has been a leader in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, and we have worked with the Boat Show to put together a solid plan to ensure it will be held with the utmost safety."

The city is depending on this event to breathe new life into its struggling tourism industry. The main location is on at the beach at the Bahia Mar Resort and Yachting Center. Managers there say they've laid off 100 workers and are hopeful to bring back half for at least three weeks.

"Many, many hotel rooms are supported this. That helps the folks from the bus boy, to the waitress, and all the way down," Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Ben Sorensen said.

Organizers said that in 2019, the show generated an economic impact of $1.3 billion to the state of Florida and more than 8,000 full-time jobs were associated with the show.

Those attending the show can expect a contactless ticketing system, multiple new entrances (14 total), widened docks to widths up to 30 feet, thermo imaging systems for temperature checks and high-velocity sanitization systems with HEPA filters, organizers said.

As of Thursday, Broward has a two-week average positivity rate at 4.18%. In Miami-Dade, it's 6.3%. Events, like this one, are true tests for large outdoor gatherings to see if they'll have an impact on the number of cases.

Social distancing and face coverings will be required by all exhibitors and attendees.

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