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COVID-19 affects live concerts with hopes to reschedule

by Maddi Dolan

As some states in the U.S. are ready for phase one reopening after the coronavirus lockdown, many people are left questioning what the future will look like for concerts and festivals. 

Back in March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made an announcement urging event organizers to postpone, cancel, or significantly reduce the number of attendees for mass gatherings. The announcement stated that events larger than 250 attendees should be canceled or postponed. 

Since then, there has been more than a million confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S, and updated announcements have been made to cancel gatherings of more than 10 people. 

In an article published by the Los Angeles Times, Ezekiel Emanuel, the director of the Healthcare Transformation Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, said it would be difficult to host large events without a vaccine. 

“If 1% of the population has COVID-19 and half are asymptomatic, that’s 250 people in a stadium of 50,000, all touching chairs, eating food, talking and jumping and shouting. Is there a better place for spreading disease?” said Emanuel.

While a number of performances that had been set for March and April were pushed to the summer, many epidemiologists and public health experts doubt that live music will return until 2021.

Summerfest, Coachella, and Stagecoach are a few popular events among many to be postponed until the fall. But, it is looking less certain that these festivals will take place at all this year. 

Victoria Zens, a sophomore criminology major at The University of Tampa, was planning on attending Milwaukee’s Summerfest in June, before it was postponed until September. 

“I’m not sure if Summerfest will be canceled,” said Zens. “I think it all depends on if they come up with a vaccine or not.” 

Most experts think a vaccine is likely to become available by mid-2021, about 12-18 months after coronavirus first emerged.

Zens was also planning on attending Firefly Music Festival in June, but the festival was canceled until next year. Zens, along with thousands of others, have already been reimbursed for their tickets. 

Emails were sent to all Firefly 2020 ticket purchasers outlining it’s refund policy on Friday, March 27. Ticket holders were asked to choose whether they’d like to receive a refund or transfer their tickets to Firefly 2021. 

“I’m really upset Firefly was canceled because it’s a bonding experience for me and my friends back home, since we don’t see eachother often,” said Zens. “But at the same time, if it’s for the safety and health of society, I’d rather have it be canceled until next year.” 

For some concert goers, their event won’t have a “next year.” 

Michael Kaplan, junior communications major, was set to see Lewis Capaldi in late April, before the concert was canceled. Capaldi canceled all of his concerts until Wednesday, May 20. His summer tour dates are “to be determined.” 

“I’m upset because I would have liked to see the concert be rescheduled at some point,” said Kaplan. “It sucks that there’s a possibility that he doesn’t come back to the US to perform or if he does, it’ll be way more expensive. That’s the worst part.” 

Kaplan is not hopeful that things will return to normal anytime soon. 

“I don’t think they will reopen in the near future. If sports teams still have to play with no fans, they wouldn’t fill the same stadiums up with people for a concert,” said Kaplan. 

Courtney Foth, sophomore writing major, purchased tickets for Bonnaroo Music Festival, which was postponed to September 2020. She is hopeful that the festival will take place this year, but said she would be okay if it was rescheduled to next year. She is keeping her ticket regardless. 

“I think it’s postponed to around September. I think it’s fine whatever they do, as long as people are safe,” said Foth. 

This year would have been Foth’s second time attending Bonnaroo. 

“Bonnaroo last year was insane. One of the best experiences of my life,” said Foth. “Everyone is so nice and it’s so chaotic, but perfect.” 

Although concert goers don’t know when events will return to their calendars, it’s safe to say that post-coronavirus concerts will look very different when they do. 

Experts suggest that when artists do return to the stage, a number of safety precautions will have to be set in place. Seats might be blocked off to allow for social distancing, temperature checks may be implemented before entrance, hand sanitizer stations and even masks may be required in some venues to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. 

Concert lovers and people in the live music industry can only hope for the best at this time.

Maddi Dolan can be reached at maddilyn.dolan@spartans.ut.edu

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