First “Socially Distant Concert” Struck Down by Arkansas Governor
The first “socially distant” concert in the U.S. since the coronavirus lockdown began was set to take place tomorrow, May 15, at TempleLive in Fort Smith, AR, featuring a performance by Travis McCready, frontman for the country rock band Bishop Gunn. But now Governor Asa Hutchinson has stepped in to shut it down, claiming the venue failed to obtain clearance from the Department of Health.
TempleLive had planned to put in place a number of measures intended to keep concertgoers safe, among them sanitizing the venue with fog sprayers by an independent third party before the show, reducing the venue’s capacity by 80%, from 1,100 to 229, requiring all attendees to wear face masks and have their temperature taken upon entry, and grouping seats into “fan pods,” groups of two to twelve seats that will only include fans who have been social distancing together, spaced six feet apart from all other pods.
But the event’s organizers acknowledged the risk of attempting to hold a concert before the state’s ban ended on May 18, three days after the concert, and now Governor Hutchinson has stepped in to enforce that deadline as among the reasons he sent the venue a cease and desist. He added that the venue failed to obtain proper clearance to hold the event even if it had been scheduled for after that date.
“You can’t just arbitrarily determine when the restrictions are lifted. That is something that is done based on a public health requirement,” said Hutchinson at a news conference, citing guidelines for venues that stipulated events of 50 people or more must be operating at less than 34 percent capacity and must have plans approved by the Department of Health. He added, “Clearly, it is three days before we determined it was an appropriate time to open up to a limited capacity in some of those informal venues, and even if you’re going to have 250 people at a venue, you still have to have a specific plan that would be approved by the Department of Health. None of that was done in this case.”
The cynic in me wonders if this whole thing was just a publicity stunt, and if so, it surely worked: this event has gotten a ton of press, and the idea of bringing back concerts with “fan pods” is now in the national conversation. My more forgiving side takes the venue at their word when they said they believed the premature opening would be cleared “given the Governor’s history of amending directives and orders once presented with additional information.” So yeah, I dunno, but one way or another it seems like this show isn’t going to happen on May 15 as planned.
[via Metal Injection]