COVID is still here and the live events are still continuing

Image sourced from shot by Danny Howe

Lydia Lutchman, Staff Writer

Concerts have always been seen as a way for one to let loose after a hard week of work and just focus on the ambiance and music that fills one’s ears and mind in the venue that the artist inhabits for those couple of hours. Many have spent hundreds of dollars to see their favorite celebrities dance and sing the night away. However, once the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic occurred in March 2020, avid concertgoers found themselves bombarded with emails from venues and ticket sites announcing the cancellation or postponement of these events. This was due to mandatory social distancing rules that prohibited indoor gatherings of large amounts of people. Understandably, many people were disappointed that it had gotten this far but understood it was the best option since there was a highly contagious and widespread virus.

Ticket resources like Ticketmaster were very accommodating and flexible, allowing buyers to be fully reimbursed if they chose not to keep their tickets even after the event was announced to be just postponed for a later date. Events that were completely canceled allowed the buyer to get a refund on whatever amount they had spent for the ticket(s). Some artists felt the disappointment of their fans and did their best to make up for it in a safe yet entertaining manner, like having virtual live-streamed events with singing, dancing and special effects. 

As vaccines were starting to be widespread and infection rates were lower than before, outdoor concerts in stadiums and parks began to occur in the middle half of 2021, with social distancing policies still being instilled. With the masking requirements of indoor spaces largely expiring in and concerts consequently returning to indoor spaces, venues have started to take on a mask-friendly role and being more lenient in their guidelines, but still urging customers not to attend if they feel sick or have symptoms of the virus. 

Along with concerts, the live theater was also affected by the pandemic, and Broadway theaters closed their doors on March 12, 2020, to the disheartenment of fans everywhere. Broadway reopened in September 2021 and masks were mandated for the audience. Many of the main actors and actresses found themselves getting sick, especially with the Omicron surge during the winter period. This resulted in many shows temporarily closing if there were not enough understudies and swings to replace the cast members. 

“The first Broadway show I saw post-Covid was American Buffalo in April of last year. Masks were required, and they did enforce it, so everyone did keep them on throughout the show. It was a smaller theater too, so I wasn’t that nervous,” said University sophomore and avid concert and Broadway goer Taylor Kessler. “But I went to a concert last November at Terminal 5, which was at a larger capacity, and masks were not as heavily enforced. I also was in the pit, so I was definitely much more nervous about being in such close contact with so many people since most didn’t wear a mask at all. I didn’t feel sick after either show, but I did make sure to self-test at home after both shows just to be sure!” Kessler continued.

Many shows found themselves being shut down or announced to be due to a lack of ticket sales, with the most recent victim being “The Phantom of the Opera.” On July 1, it was announced that Broadway lifted their mask mandate for the audiences, but ushers, musicians who did not have to use their mouth for an instrument, and other staff still had to wear one. 

“The first two concerts I went to after the pandemic calmed down were Role Model and GovBall. I did not feel unwell after either of them, and they were only 2 days apart. Role Model was indoors, and GovBall was outdoors,” said University sophomore Olivia Favro, who has gone to over 100 concerts. “I was not nervous about being in a crowded area with others because both shows required proof of vaccination. At Role Model some people wore masks since it was indoors, but I didn’t see many masks at GovBall because it was outside and over 80 degrees.”

Many people are ready to return to their way of life and entertainment prior to the pandemic, so it is understandable why people would be less willing to wear a mask and just enjoy the concerts as they have done in previous years. However, it is important to still be conscious of potentially exposing yourself to the virus and being safe above all else.