LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Thursday May 13 marked a rare occasion during the pandemic. It's a feeling of optimism.
"So much of these last 15 months, we've had to operate outside of very normal circumstances for those of us in the hospitality industry,” said Mary Quinn Ramer.
Ramer is the president of VisitLEX which relies on people coming to Lexington and spend money. With canceled conventions, concerts, and games plus work-from-home locally, that's been hard.
"It's been devastating. And so for us, every additional person that we can bring to the city is just that much more economic impact that travels throughout our community," said Ramer.
According to a study from a few years ago, Ramer says the average convention attendee spends about $400 a day within market. When she heard the reopening date, she thought about one such event coming to Lexington in June. When it was originally scheduled, the registration was capped due to social distancing.
"So I immediately thought to myself, they have a waiting list. We can probably accommodate their whole group with this new guidance," said Ramer.
The return of Keeneland and reopening of some places has made a difference.
According to VIsitLEX, the hotel occupancy numbers in Lexington have made a complete turnaround. In April 2020, hotel occupancy was at 16%. Last month, it was up to 60%.
The lights inside the Explorium will stay off on Mondays this summer, but the center's hours and days open will be expanding.
"Well that's good news because we are ready to have a full museum back again, with lots of parents and kids and laughter and learning and ready to resume business as usual," said Lee Ellen Martin, Executive Director of the Explorium.
Thursday Night Live, the big weekly concert party, is also set to return this summer.
"That's still a bit of a moving target. We're working with the city to get that nailed down of a start date," said Terry Sweeney, president of Downtown Lexington Partnership. "All this reopening the economy is going to help all of our existing and new businesses."
Officials with Central Bank Center and Rupp Arena also confirm that once June 11 hits, the mask requirement and capacity restrictions will be lifted.
LEX 18 spoke with the group "Friends of the Kentucky Theater" to ask when the historic downtown theater could be reopening. They said that there's no definitive date yet, but it may not be far away. Unfortunately, they added, it will take a few months to prepare once they are given the green light by LFUCG. The decision lies with the city council.