RICHMOND, Va. -- A Richmond venue and entertainment group defended their plans to organize a Halloween bar crawl as the COVID-19 pandemic persists.
LX Group has scheduled “The Purge Bar Crawl 2020” for Saturday from 3 p.m. until 10 p.m., according to a Facebook event post.
Derick Washington, the group’s Director of Operations, said they reached out to the Department of Health before posting the event publicly.
“It’s a holiday and we know everybody will still go out,” he explained. “We are trying to make this into somewhat of a normal feel for everybody, but we are trying to make it as safe as possible.”
Washington said they sold about 400 tickets before closing off sales.
Kabana Rooftop, Belle RVA, Switch RVA, Bar Solita, and Mainstage are listed as the designated stops.
The restaurant, Therapy on East Cary Street, was also on the list before the Richmond Health Department suspended their operating permits over failure to meet the state's COVID-19 safety guidelines.
Washington said the bar crawl was months in the making. His event will not allow partiers to wander freely from venue to venue.
“It’s tour guided, you have a route, you have to sit down when you go to this venue and there’s a set time you have to leave this venue,” he stated.
LX Group will organize the participants into groups that they will stay with throughout the day. Washington said they'll move the groups between each restaurant in order to maintain 50 percent capacity, as determined under COVID-19 guidelines.
Washington said security and staff will make sure ticket holders obey the social distancing and mask requirements.
Richmonders shared mixed feelings about whether or not they’d join the party.
“I don’t think people should let the pandemic cripple their social life or their lives in general. I think people should go about and live their lives,” said Joseph White.
Steven Anderson, a former Richmond bartender, said it’s unlikely he would participate in the event.
“I got mixed feelings about it. You mix alcohol and rules with the pandemic and everything and I don’t think it always works out that way,” Anderson said.
The event was criticized on the social media site Reddit.
"'The Purge' is the best name ever for a group of people that don't take covid (sic) seriously. Unfortunately, they'll spread it to others," one Redditor wrote.
Dr. Tiffany Kimbrough, a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, cautioned against letting your guard down when you enter a restaurant.
“Some places are more crowded than others. Can you maintain six to 10 feet from the next patron? You want to wear your mask when you’re not enjoying a meal or beverage,” Dr. Kimbrough said.
Kimbrough cares for patients from birth to college. She advised to weigh your own risk factors for your own family.
“I think this is one of those things that fall under your own risk tolerance,” she explained.
The pediatrician and mother of two children said Halloween season will also look different for children this year.
“We are recommending for folks to avoid the traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating this year,” Kimbrough said.
Virginia Department of Health (VDH) lists trick or treating under the highest risk for exposure to COVID-19. That list also included hayrides, haunted houses and parties.
Kimbrough urged families to get creative in order to still celebrate Halloween.
“We are doing in our neighborhood a reverse trick-or-treating where parents are decorating their cars and they’re driving. The kids are staying in the driveway and candy is being thrown to the kid,” she explained.
VDH recommended families to organize Halloween scavenger hunts or pumpkin carvings with immediate family members, which they list as the “lowest risk” for exposure.