As more and more shows are canceled or pushed into 2021 amid the coronavirus pandemic, music fans are counting down the days until they can hit the pit again. While moshing and crowdsurfing might not be permitted right from the start, concert promoters are considering other options for a more viable return to live music.
One such option being discussed among U.K. executives is a disinfectant mist that fans would be required to walk through in order to attend a concert.
Immediately after shows began getting canceled in March and social distancing went into effect, artists took to Twitch, Instagram Live and more to host virtual shows. While livestreams are a good way to pass the time and maintain a sense of normalcy with live music (and even a wall of death), fans are anticipating when they can return to that in-person concert experience.
In April, health experts told the New York Times that fans shouldn’t expect to get that typical experience again until late 2021 with many citing the need for a vaccine that could take 12 to 18 months to develop. A second report in May recruited venue operators and entertainment organizations who said they’re basically giving up on a return to normal live music events in 2020. Even with concerts poised to return in 2021, artists could be expected to take a massive pay cut with Live Nation’s plan.
Several artists have played at movie theater drive-ins with attendees required to stay in their car. Even more events are planned for this summer including Andrew McMahon who will perform Jack’s Mannequin favorite Everything In Transit in full along with other songs from his Something Corporate and In The Wilderness discography.
In May, Travis McCready played the first socially-distant concert in Arkansas to a room that was only at 20% capacity. The venue was heavily sanitized with fog sprayers prior to opening, and fans were required to wear masks and have their temperature checked. Hand sanitizer stations were spread throughout the venue along with one-way walkways per CDC guidelines. Attendees were also put into “fan pods” which kept 6 feet of separation between groups.
While nothing has been confirmed, there have been discussions in the music industry about potentially having to prove you were vaccinated upon entry with a medical ID card in the future. Companies are even working to create a hazmat-style suit you could wear to gigs.
Now, venues in the U.K. are considering utilizing a disinfectant mist in order to bring back concerts this fall. The National Arena Association, which represents 23 of the U.K. and Ireland’s large concert venues, explained to the Mirror that current restrictions on capacity aren’t financially viable.
According to the outlet, Craig Hassall, the chief executive of London venue Royal Albert Hall, cites South Korea as the perfect example of disinfectant mists being utilized.
In order for Bluesquare InterPark Hall to continue hosting The Phantom Of The Opera Broadway show, the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention enacted a series of requirements. In addition to the mist, attendees’ temperature are tested, and they complete a questionnaire about symptoms and places recently visited. Those places are then tracked on the country’s contract-tracing app.
With the current restrictions on capacity preventing venues from breaking even, Hassall has asked the government to consider the same temperature testing, health surveying and a disinfectant mist upon entry in addition to masks for U.K. events.
“We’ve asked the government to look at how venues in other countries have been operating and the checks and balances they have put in place instead of blanket social distancing guidelines, Hassall tells the Mirror. “The test case in Seoul—where a Phantom Of The Opera production has continued running—has seen audience members walking through a light mist of disinfectant, having their temperature taken, and filling in a questionnaire about their symptoms and recent places they’ve visited. If we’re to find a solution, it is going to be a combination of numerous measures, from increased access points to hand sanitizers, Perspex screens and PPE for staff.”
The National Arena Association’s Lucy Noble added that the current restrictions could greatly hurt the venues.
“Even with one-meter social distancing we’d be looking at a 30% capacity which is not workable for most of our shows which are large scale touring rock and pop. We are looking at what activity we are able to undertake in the coming months, but it won’t be live performances, these do not work financially on a two-meter social distancing model.”
“We do believe that 2021 could be busy across all the arenas because many tours are being postponed, but this doesn’t help our situation now where there is absolutely no income to our venues. We are at serious risk.”
What do you think of the idea of walking through a disinfectant mist? Let us know in the comments below.