Only months ago, New York and Los Angeles were the country’s biggest markets for sports and live events. Now, they are struggling as hot spots for COVID-19, combining for a death toll upwards of 12,000 among over 125,000 cases. As lockdowns remain in place and healthcare workers work to treat the thousands infected, the cities’ mayors are doubtful that entertainment industries can pick up in the immediate future.
“I’ve got to see in my city real steady progress, even to start to think about relaxing some of those social distancing standards even a little bit,” New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio said in an interview with CNN. “I want to get people back to work, of course. I want to get kids back to school. But I think it will take months to go through that whole sequence. And the last thing I want to do is gather 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 people in one place, that’s like the exact opposite of social distancing.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti cautioned that concerts, festivals, sporting events and other major gatherings may be put on hold until 2021, depending on potential treatment research that is happening worldwide.
“It’s difficult to imagine us getting together in the thousands anytime soon, so I think we should be prepared for that this year,” Garcetti told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer before adding that “until there’s either a vaccine, some sort of pharmaceutical intervention or herd immunity” mass gatherings should not be in the cards. Garcetti did mention that he would welcome the televised return of sporting events held without fans, a prospect major leagues are considering.
The mayors’ comments echo that of their governors, who have rolled out ongoing shelter-in-place orders to limit the spread of the virus. California Governor Gavin Newsom revealed in a press briefing this week that he does not foresee mass gatherings taking place in the Golden State through the summer months and likely beyond. Newsom laid out a set of specific criteria the state needs to meet in order to lift its current stay-at-home order and he is teaming up with the governors of Oregon and Washington to create a plan for keeping the entire West Coast safe.
Meanwhile, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has enacted similar measures and joining governors from six Northeastern states to create a taskforce aimed at reopening businesses in the region. On Thursday, Cuomo extended the state’s shutdown period to May 15.