Atlantic City leaders call on governor to allow conventions and trade shows

Michael Chait, president of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, speaks at a press conference on the Atlantic City, N.J. Boardwalk on April 30, 2021 at which he and other business and political officials called on New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy to ease coronavirus restrictions enough to allow conventions and trade shows to resume in Atlantic City. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

Michael Chait, president of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, speaks at a press conference on the Atlantic City, N.J. Boardwalk on April 30, 2021 at which he and other business and political officials called on New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy to ease coronavirus restrictions enough to allow conventions and trade shows to resume in Atlantic City. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

Business leaders and elected officials in Atlantic City urged New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy to allow conventions and trade shows to resume again at a press conference Friday at Kennedy Plaza. Murphy happened to have been in town with his wife Tammy to receive his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Atlantic City Convention Center.

Conventions and trade shows still remain on hold as parts of the state have reopened.

The state responded accordingly to the pandemic during the early days, said Michael Chait, president of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber. He added that now is the time to help event-planners and venues to get prepared for later this year.

“You have to have some guidelines in place,” Chait said. “You can certainly plan and implement some events, because they take months to prepare.”

Chait added that discussions about safety protocols and capacities need to be had before they can talk to show promoters.

“If you told them ‘Hey, you can use this space, we’re at 50% capacity,’ [show promoters will ask] ‘How many people can I get in there? How many booths can I get in there?’” Chait said. “Because it goes back to usable square footage.”

The state has permitted indoor sports, concerts, religious ceremonies, and private catered events.

Gov. Phil Murphy said at his COVID-19 briefing Wednesday that he would make an announcement in regard to accelerating the state’s reopening on Monday.

“With the statewide COVID-19 metrics trending downward, Governor Murphy looks forward to making a series of reopening announcements next week,” said Alexandra Altman, the governor’s deputy press secretary.

Chait said it would be “tremendous” if Murphy would address conventions and trade shows at that time. Such live events are a big part of the economy in Atlantic City.

“[It] would be a huge help to all of us here,” he said, “bringing people back to and stimulating the economy.”

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