‘Socially distanced’ concert held in Arkansas


Arkensas Fort Smith TempleLive Image: TempleLive

America’s first ‘socially distanced’ concert was staged in the US State of Arkansas despite facing severe criticism over the same.

The show by rock band Bishop Gunn frontman Travis McCready was mired in controversy and had previously faced the threat of a cease and desist order after Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said the social distancing measures announced by the venue, TempleLive, were not in keeping with the health regulations.

The show finally went ahead on May 18 after TempleLive postponed the event for three days in order to comply with the Governor’s directive.

Bishop Gunn is a 4-piece blues Americana rock and roll country band from Natchez, Mississippi. TempleLive is a live music venue in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

As laid down by the venue, attendees sat in ‘fan pods’ located six feet apart from each other as McCready delivered an acoustic solo performance. The venue’s 1,100-person maximum capacity was also reduced to 229 seats, and temperature checks on all attendees were done upon arrival.

It was made mandatory for fans to wear masks at all times, and the bathrooms could be used by 10 people at a time.

High sanitary standards were followed with fog sprayers used to stop the spread of bacteria before and after the event.

The other operating protocols included:

  • The capacity of the venue was reduced to 239, 80 percent of the capacity;
  • Prior to event venue was sanitized with fog sprayers;
  • Masks were made mandatory for patrons above 10 years of age;
  • All TempleLive employees were required to wear face coverings;
  • The performers had to maintain a minimum of 12 feet from the audience;
  • TempleLive was monitoring and maintaining physical distancing on all lines inside and outside of the facility;
  • Hand sanitizers were available at all entry and exit points and was available to all patrons;
  • Required signage was put up at all entry and exit points;
  • Six feet of separation was maintained from all seating groups or fan pods;
  • No-touch soap and paper towel dispensers were made available;
  • Closure of bathroom fixtures to maintain six feet of distance during use;
  • All beverages were prepackaged or with lids; and
  • Constant wiping down of touch points in venues and restroom by TempleLive employees.

The aforementioned measures were taken after healthcare experts in the US predicted that live concerts will not return until Autumn 2021, with a poll finding that most American gig-goers would rather wait until a vaccine is found until attending shows again.

Tickets were priced at US$20 each, with the condition that the purchaser must buy all seats in a particular pod (to ensure sit only with people with whom they’ve been isolating) to check out.

The announcement of the concert followed a directive by Governor Hutchinson that says theaters and other large venues will be allowed to reopen as of May 18 – albeit with fewer than 50 people in attendance.

In the UK, venues have spoken of their concerns and requirements if live gigs were to be allowed again under the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Elsewhere, Denmark has begun pilot drive-in concerts – with fans enjoying shows from the comfort of their own vehicles.

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