Among the many elements of ‘normal life’ that have been upended as a result of the coronavirus pandemic is the live music industry. Concerts, which we all definitely took for granted prior to mandated shutdowns and the temporary shuttering of live music venues around the world, do not exist right now outside the digital realm of social media and YouTube.
Also absent during this time are sporting events, gatherings with family and friends or working in an office setting, among many other activities that we just figured would always be around until the threat of COVID-19 threw everything into chaos.
Even the concept of going to a concert — packing into a venue, standing next to strangers and, in the case of intimate gigs, coming into contact with other patrons just by virtue of watching the show — seems impossible in this new, confusing era of social distancing.
A recent report from the New York Times Magazine, cites bioethicist Zeke Emanuel (Vice Provost for Global Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania and chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy) as saying some very concerning things about when we might be able to realistically resume normal functions — especially large gatherings like sporting events or concerts.
Yes, restarting the economy has to be done in stages, and it does have to start with more physical distancing at a work site that allows people who are at lower risk to come back. Certain kinds of construction, or manufacturing or offices, in which you can maintain six-foot distances are more reasonable to start sooner. Larger gatherings — conferences, concerts, sporting events — when people say they’re going to reschedule this conference or graduation event for October 2020, I have no idea how they think that’s a plausible possibility. I think those things will be the last to return. Realistically we’re talking fall 2021 at the earliest.
We’ve already seen several big tours and festivals reschedule their planned Spring/Summer 2020 events to the fall, with more inevitably to be announced in the future.
But if the above quote pans out, it seems that even Fall 2020 might be a bit of a reach, should Emanuel’s words of caution ring true. Here’s hoping that’s not the case.