After more than a year, event organizers say they're thrilled to finally get back to some sense of normalcy.By Briana Smith

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Welcoming visitors back downtown is on the mind of managers and event organizers as most COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted by May 31.

“We’re so so excited to do that, to bring live music back to thousands of people,” said Sarah Aziz, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust festival director.

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After more than a year, event organizers in Pittsburgh like Aziz say they’re thrilled to finally get back to some sense of normalcy.

At the top of her list: no longer having to keep the Three Rivers Arts Festival contained to the Cultural District.

“We are really excited that we will be able to be back in Point State Park,” said Aziz. “Not for the full 10 days of the festival, but for both weekends.”

Aziz along with the Pittsburgh Public Theater director, Fairmont Pittsburgh hotel general manger and David L. Lawrence Convention Center general manager spoke on a panel moderated by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. They touched on topics including changes in events, the boost in business and safety protocols.

The general manager of the Convention Center says they already welcomed back thousands during a youth basketball tournament, and he’s ready to have more visitors.

“Currently, as we speak our RV Show is moving in,” said General Manager Tim Muldoon. “We have a great annual volleyball tournament happening Memorial Day weekend. But then as we move further into the summer, we’re really excited to get started with that first convention.”

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They’re hoping to reach revenue like it was in 2019.

“The $6.5 billion is the result of visitation from over 33 million people per year that come into Allegheny County for travel purposes,” said VisitPITTSBURGH President and CEO Jerad Bachar. “A lot of those people come to the downtown central business district for a variety of reasons.”

But as people make their way downtown again, event organizers say they’ll still be met with safety protocols.

“Folks can definitely feel safe going inside any of our venues,” said Aziz. “Outdoors, we’re doing tons of training with our staff and volunteers.”

Aziz says they’ll ask people to wear masks and fill out a health check on an app called CLEAR.

The panelists also spoke about how difficult it would be to make vaccinations a requirement, but they’ll continue to discuss the best safety practices.

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Meanwhile, tourism is expected to pick up sooner than planned. The governor increased indoor capacity to 50% and outdoor capacity to 75% starting Monday, May 17.