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Editorial: More of the same in 2021?

In 2021, the story about community events may end up being more of the same rather than a return to pre-pandemic times.

The rescheduling of the Cheerwine Festival to the fall and, now, the same for Pops at the Post may be a canary in the coal mine. Even though they’re outdoors, both events have regularly drawn crowds that would concern law enforcement charged with implementing the state’s executive orders. And what about insurance companies whose OK might be needed, too?

Businesses still hope for better days, but have adopted new operational plans because of the foreboding sense that COVID-19 is here to stay for a while longer. Workers who might otherwise be interested in a part- or full-time job continue to sit out of the workforce because of health concerns. Vaccinations remain months away for most people and a previous infection is neither a guarantee of permanent immunity nor that the next infection will be of the same severity as the first.

These factors probably mean a posture of caution for most large events and that, even if scheduled, events would see fewer attendees than previous years.

But there are vaccinations going into arms, and that’s more than an overwhelming majority of countries can say for themselves. Meanwhile, the fact that people have settled into a way of life and have been mostly without community events for nearly a year could mean organizers find ways to make alterations that allow in-person events to move forward.

The Chamber of Commerce’s dragon boat festival could end up with only participants attending. The Rowan County Fair may be forced to take another year off, but it might get the OK for exhibits and some of its agriculture-focused features. The Faith Fourth of July could try a parade similar to Salisbury’s 2020 ‘Tis the Season Spectacular — where the viewers are driving by static scenes stationed across town.

With masks and appropriate social distancing, officials may decide medium-sized outdoor concerts and events are OK. And with the same precautions, events like Autumn Jubilee may be able to go forward with few other changes.

Of course, much about the future of events depends on restrictions put in place by Gov. Roy Cooper. With local deaths coming several at a time and most counties experiencing concerning levels of spread, it seems unlikely those will change in the immediate future.

There’s hope though, and with the state nearing one year since the first case of COVID-19 appeared (March 3), it’s nice to cling to a little bit of hope.

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