Live events could be making a comeback by the fall, if everything goes to plan.
During a virtual conference organized by the Association of Performing Arts Professionals this past Saturday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the United States, said that depending on how the COVID-19 vaccination rollout goes, live venues could reopen by fall 2021.
According to Dr. Fauci (as reported by the New York Times), the timeline hinges on herd immunity, which would mean 70%-85% of the population would have to be vaccinated. “If everything goes right, this is will occur some time in the fall of 2021, so that by the time we get to the early to mid-fall, you can have people feeling safe performing onstage as well as people in the audience.”
Herd Immunity wouldn’t just allow venues to reopen, but some would be able to reopen without a lot of restrictions. Dr. Fauci told conference attendees that venues with good ventilation and air filtration might only need to require face masks. “I think you can then start getting back to almost full capacity of seating.” He does not see the necessity of face masks going away any time soon.
Unfortunately, the amount of vaccinations administered so far has not kept up with the schedule that had been projected. According to ABC 7, out of approximately 25,480,725 doses distributed around the country, only 8,987,322 (35%) have been administered to eligible citizens (currently healthcare workers, first responders and people over 75 are eligible to receive it).
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the live event industry hard, as most venues have been closed since mid-March. According to a survey by the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) in June, 90% of independent venues reported that without some sort of aid, they would have to shut their doors for good. In December, Pollstar said in their year-end report that the live event industry lost more than $30 billion in revenue.
A bit of good news came in late December when it was announced that the Save Our Stages Act had been passed as part of the $900 billion relief package passed by congress. The act set aside $15 billion of federal aid for music venues, theaters and other cultural institutions affected by the pandemic.
Ultimately, Dr. Fauci reassures the music community that things will get better. “We’ll be back in the theaters — performers will be performing, audiences will be enjoying it,” he concludes “It will happen.”