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Is it too soon to hold large concerts?

The concert industry was just starting to pick up again but has seen some high-profile festivals and shows canceled recently as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

Stevie Nicks canceled several upcoming festival appearances saying, “I want everyone to be safe and healthy, and the rising Covid-19 cases should be of concern to all of us.”

Some big festivals, like Bonnaroo in Tennessee, have responded by requiring a negative COVID-19 test. Other shows and concert companies, such as AEG Presents, will require proof of vaccination.

Q: Is it too soon to hold large concerts? (Yes or No)

Gary London, London Moeder Advisors

YES: This is an example of the economic and cultural price that we are all paying as a result of the selfishness of anti-vaxxers. Our society cannot normalize, and there is no better illustration than larger gatherings like concerts. I guess that I would be OK with proof of vaccination and masks. But this is just so sad and unnecessary. Sure it impacts the talent, but it also costs the ticket takers, the venders, the security persons and the cleanup crew. It’s hard to be on the fence on this issue.

Alan Gin, University of San Diego

NO: With the vaccine available to anybody who wants it, there is no reason why big events cannot be held safely. They should be limited to those who can show proof of being completely vaccinated, which will prevent them from becoming superspreader events. Those who have been responsible and gotten vaccinated should not be denied activities by those who refuse to do so. This is not forcing anybody to get vaccinated, but no shirt, no shoes, no vaccination, no service.

Bob Rauch, R.A. Rauch & Associates

YES: At the minimum, proof of vaccine or a negative COVID-19 test should be required for all indoor or outdoor large concerts. These concerts should have spacing guidelines for distancing, mask requirements if indoors and readily available hand sanitizing stations. I believe the best way to avoid problems is to have large concerts that are scheduled for this fall to either cut attendance via distancing or postpone the concert.

Austin Neudecker, Weave Growth

YES: People are acting as if COVID is behind us. Look at the data. Cases in San Diego are climbing past levels we have not seen since February. The vaccines drastically reduce mortality, but they are not fully preventing people from getting sick (with potentially long-term effects) and spreading the virus to others. Large gatherings in tight (esp. indoor) settings still serve as superspreader events. Get vaccinated and find responsible social outlets.

James Hamilton, UC San Diego

YES: Everyone is understandably anxious to get back to normal life, and for most activities, we certainly should. But we also need to recognize that the world has changed. We need to change with it by continuing to follow some basic precautions. An outdoor concert where you can stay 6 feet away from people you don’t know is probably fine. But a crowded, noisy venue is still not a place you want to be.

Chris Van Gorder, Scripps Health

YES: The Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus is very contagious and is causing a significant increase in hospitalizations, particularly with the unvaccinated. Concerts can turn into superspreader events. This is not the time for large group gatherings where people are close together. But if concerts are held, vaccines and masks should be mandated. Otherwise, we run the risk of worsening an already terrible pandemic.

Norm Miller, University of San Diego

NO: It’s not too soon for any type of gathering or outing, if we are going to limit participation to those who have been fully vaccinated. Those who wish to stay unvaccinated will need to hibernate or repeatedly be tested. If all activities required vaccination then most holdouts would succumb and we’d knock this thing out. I like the idea of opening the economy but with such qualifiers.

Jamie Moraga, IntelliSolutions

NO: As long as it is outdoors. We have been able to enjoy outdoor sporting events and theme parks for several months now. To my knowledge, no COVID outbreaks have been attributed to these outdoor events or activities. My answer would change to yes for holding large indoor concerts or events. Bringing together thousands of people into an enclosed space for several hours isn’t a good idea. We should take time to better understand the long-term effectiveness of the vaccines and continue to remain cautious due to the emerging variants, especially with large indoor gatherings.

David Ely, San Diego State University

NO: Safety protocols can be put in place to manage risk, including a requirement that attendees show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test to enter the concert venue. Over the summer and early fall, many of the large concerts will be held outdoors. The scheduling of live concerts will allow the sector to recover, which will benefit the significant numbers of workers employed by touring companies and concert venues.

Ray Major, SANDAG

Not participating this week.

Lynn Reaser, Point Loma Nazarene University

YES: With the rapid spread of the Delta variant, safety would argue against large concerts at this time. With no attendance restrictions and the still large number of unvaccinated Americans, the proximity of large numbers of people could fuel new COVID surges. Even if vaccinations or proof of negative COVID tests are required, the logistics of verifying and checking people in could blunt the actual effectiveness of such policies. Best to wait until the Delta-fed surge subsides.

Reginald Jones, Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation

NO: Cultural performances are part of our lifestyle. It is time to reengage. Chicago just hosted Lollapalooza, one of the country’s largest outdoor music festivals. The attendance was estimated at 385,000. Critics feared the event would be a “superspreader.” Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test was required. According to reports, 90 percent of attendees were vaccinated. After two weeks only 203 positive cases have been traced to attendees — roughly 0.05 percent. Let the music play — safely.

Kelly Cunningham, San Diego Institute for Economic Research

NO: Most infections are now spread among individuals choosing to be unvaccinated. Among 385,000 attendees at a recent Lollapalooza concert in Chicago, only 203 became infected (with some having experienced symptoms before the concert). The infection rate of 0.05 percent was anticipated and so far not linked with any hospitalizations or deaths. Attendance at large events may require proof to be shown of vaccination or negative COVID tests taken within 72 hours of the event.

Phil Blair, Manpower

NO: As long as every attendee and employee has verified they have been vaccinated. I realize that is an onerous undertaking but it needs to be the price of admission. A negative COVID test in the last few days is not enough. I put this up there with mandatory motorcycle helmets. Sometimes the law has to mandate common sense. Attending an event with thousands of people having a good time and asking for them to be masked is impossible. Unvaccinated people have to realize there is a price to pay for their decision to not be willing to easily protect their family, friends and fellow attendees from this illness.

Have an idea for an EconoMeter question? Email me at [email protected].

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