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Music venues reopen in certain American states

The states of Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma are the first to give the go ahead to live shows again, as an uneven reopening process takes place across the United States.

Around half of America’s states have begun a significant reopening of their economies and a return to public life, with live music venues among those to get back to business in a handful of places.

The governor of Missouri, Mike Parson, released a plan last week signalling that live events, including concerts, were allowed to reopen this week, provided that seating is spaced out according to social distancing requirements, with a distance of 6 feet (1.83 metres) kept between individuals.

“There are currently no limitations on social gatherings as long as necessary precautions are taken and six feet of distance can be maintained between individuals and/or families,” reads the Missouri government’s Show Me Strong recovery plan.

However, not all areas of the state are choosing to reopen so soon, with stay-at-home orders still in place in the cities of St Louis and Kansas City, where local authorities are preparing to gradually relax measures from 18 and 15 May respectively.

In Oklahoma, the reopening plan presented by governor Kevin Stitt named “entertainment venues” among those permitted to open from last Friday (1 May), in accordance with social distancing and sanitation protocols. However, city-owned venues in Oklahoma City remain closed until at leat 15 May by order of mayor David Holt.

Indoor venues in the state of Arkansas including arenas and stadia will be allowed to reopen from 18 May, with a capacity limit of 50 people.

“I am confident this measured reopening is the best approach that will allow us to enjoy these entertainment venues again”

A distance of six feet must be kept between audience members or family groups, with every other row unoccupied. Hand sanitiser stations must be available at all entrances and exits and face coverings are required for all but attendees under ten years of age and performers, who must be 12 feet (3.65m) from the audience.

Arkansas venue TempleLive has already announced a live show by singer Travis McCready later this month, under what it calls ‘Covid operating protocol’. The venue is planning to operate at 20% of its 1,100 capacity, with fans sitting in clusters of between two and 12, dubbed ‘fan pods’.

“We are attempting to move past the restrictions that have been necessary during this pandemic, but we must do so in a manner that is based on solid data,” says Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson.

“I am confident this measured reopening is the best approach that will allow us to enjoy these entertainment venues again. As we cautiously emerge from this difficult time, we will keep an eye on data for any evidence that we are moving too quickly.”

Stay-at-home orders are still in place in the states of New York, New Mexico, Nevada, Michigan, Louisiana, District of Columbia, Delaware and Vermont until 15 May; in Minnesota and Massachusetts until 18 May; Connecticut until 20 May; Ohio until 29 May; Illinois until 30 May; Washington and Hawaii until 31 May; and Virginia until 10 June, as well as ongoing lockdowns in Oregon, New Jersey, Maryland, Kentucky and California.

Photo: Daniel Schwen/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0) (cropped)

 


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14 hospitalised as storm hits Backstreet Boys concert

At least 14 people were injured at a sold-out Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees concert over the weekend after a storm battered the WinStar World Casino and Resort venue in Oklahoma.

12,000 concert hopefuls were queuing outside the venue when heavy rain and winds as strong as 80mph caused trusses located at the entrance of the open-air venue to collapse on top of the crowd. Videos taken by witnesses to the scene show fans helping the injured before emergency services arrived.

Staff at the venue had begun the process of evacuation prior to the collapse, after lightening was seen close to the venue. According to a statement from the venue, however, some chose not to heed the warnings of staff, instead choosing to stay in line amongst the severe weather.

“This was an unusual event and our thoughts are with those who were injured during this storm”

“All patrons in the area were asked to move and to seek shelter from the storm. However, about 150 patrons who were standing in line for the Backstreet Boys concert did not heed staff’s warnings,” the statement reads.

“We know that fans often suffer through inclement weather for their favourite acts, but this was an unusual event and our thoughts are with those who were injured during this storm.”

One prospective concertgoer shared a video of the scene on Twitter, showing the aftermath of the collapse, complete with ambulances and police cars.

Members of Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees took to Twitter to express their disappointment at the turn of events. From their official Backstreet Boys Twitter account the band said: “We never want to put our fans in harm’s way and with tonight’s weather and the injuries from earlier.

“We have decided to cancel the show and will attempt to reschedule. The most important thing is for everyone to get home safely and we will see you all very soon!”

Band member Kevin Richardson has since confirmed on Twitter that the concert will be rescheduled and has advised fans to keep their tickets.

 


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