Most Epidemiologists Won't Attend Concerts for at Least Another Year Due to Fears over COVID-19

Of over 500 specialists surveyed, 64 percent say they won't feel safe at a live music venue until 2021

Photo: Rick Clifford

BY Allie GregoryPublished Jun 8, 2020

Now over 80 days since the coronavirus pandemic sent Canada into lockdown, the nation continues to wait patiently — or impatiently — for services and businesses to resume as normal. While provinces have already started plans for reopening, epidemiologists share a much more conservative view on the return to normalcy.

In a new survey conducted by the New York Times, more than 500 specialists were surveyed on their opinions about the safety of returning to normal activities like getting haircuts, attending weddings and going to concerts. The latter category showed the least optimistic response, with 64 percent of respondents saying they wouldn't consider attending a concert, sporting event or play until at least one year from now — provided no vaccine for the virus has been developed.

"These are some of the highest-risk activities and probably attract more risk-embracing people. The addition of alcohol or drugs makes these activities too risky for me to consider anytime soon." Vivian Towe of Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute told NYT.

Tammie Nelson of Marion County Public Health Department told the publication she would be comfortable going to a show by fall, "if social distancing was enforced and everyone attending was required to wear a mask."

Steve Mooney of the University of Washington Would would prefer to wait at least a year.

"This is as much about feelings of social responsibility as about personal infection risk," he said. "Large-scale gatherings are a contact tracing nightmare and seem like they should be shut down until we have a really good sense of what's safe/how to screen people."

Less than one percent of those surveyed said they would attend a concert right now, while only two and eight percent said they would attend a concert sometime this summer or fall, respectively. 

The results of the survey won't necessarily affect individual governing bodies' decisions to reopen venues or not, but the figures do seem similar to that of Canadian opinions. Back in April, 43 percent of respondents in a poll conducted by Abacus Data said they would wait at least six months to return to a large gathering like a festival or concert

Earlier this year, Live Nation announced that it doesn't expect live music events to resume at "full scale" until the fall of 2021. The promoter will instead plan to pursue social-distancing initiatives including drive-in concerts and reduced-capacity festivals, which you probably won't be allowed to mosh or crowdsurf at.

Meanwhile, livestream concerts continue to dominate the new normal for live music. Many organizations and fans have proved that this format — while nowhere near the same type of experience as in-person performances — are worth paying for

"To me, [concerts are a] luxury and I can wait a long time until people can safely come together to enjoy it," Joseph Wagner told NYT. "That said, I can and will continue to support arts programs as if I was attending with donations."

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