Doctors concerned Las Olas Art Fair could be super-spreader event

Organizers say proper safety measures in place for this weekend

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – For the past three decades, the Las Olas Art Fair has attracted thousands of people to downtown Fort Lauderdale — a fact that this year has some people concerned.

Some local doctors say they’re worried the gathering set for this Saturday and Sunday could end up being a COVID-19 super-spreader event, but organizers say they’re taking precautions to prevent that.

Dr. Joe Arena, a recently retired physician who lives just off of Las Olas Boulevard, joined several other doctors in writing Broward County and the city of Fort Lauderdale to share their concerns about the event.

“The main concern is the health of the people in this area,” Arena said. “By having an affair like this would only bring more people and more congestion, so you’re looking for trouble.”

Elizabeth Dashiell, a publicist for Howard Alan Events, which puts on the fair, says they understand the concerns but have detailed safety measures in place.

“We are going to be limiting the number of people who are actually allowed to enter the art walk area, and once there we have people who will be monitoring to ensure that safe social distancing is happening,” she said.

Organizers say they are also requiring masks and are working to configure artists' tents in a way that they’re at least 10 feet apart.

Dashiell shared photos from another art festival they put on last month in Alexandria, Virginia, using those protocols, and she says it went well.

“What you see is a lot of space, none of the crowds we usually see in Alexandria, which is in fact about the same size as the Las Olas Art Fair.”

Organizers are asking people to sign up for a time slot and get a free ticket online. If you don’t have one of those tickets, you’ll be forced to wait in a socially distanced line if there are too many people in the area already.

As for the doctors, they say they don’t believe the safety protocols will be easily enforced and they are hoping the event can just be postponed until next year.

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