Despite a ban on mass gatherings across the state, a concert is planned for this weekend in Utah, which is expected to bring in hundreds – maybe thousands – of people.
Jason Manning, who owns The Amphitheater at Studio Ranch in Grantsville, is lending his venue for the event, which will be hosted by the Utah Business Revival. In addition to the concert, Manning said the event will host about 75 vendors on-site in order to support small businesses. As a bar owner, he said that he’s suffered over the past six weeks and if he didn’t own his property outright, he’d be bankrupt.
Manning told KUTV that he doesn’t anticipate more than 3,000 to 5,000 people in attendance. Although that number is considered a “mass gathering” – which is currently banned in the state – Manning doesn’t believe that the Tooele County Board of Health and the county commissioners could “make a misdemeanor stick” in this situation.
In terms of people’s health being put at risk, Manning said that “this is America, you make that decision, you’re a free person.”
“The government isn’t here to keep you safe, to keep you healthy,” he told KUTV. “If you don’t want to catch the flu, take precautions. Wear a mask, wear gloves, wash your hands. If you don’t want to be in a crowd, don’t be in a crowd. No one is forcing you.”
Jacqueline Castro, the public information officer for the Tooele County Department of Health, said that a potential coronavirus outbreak due to a mass gathering would be “overwhelming” and would “take a toll on our health care providers.” However, Castro told KUTV that the department can’t do anything about the concert as it is an in-permitted event. The county attorney’s office has filed a restraining order, but Manning said the event will still go on as planned this coming Saturday.
“As of right now, the only way we’re going to stop it is if a judge tells me to stop it,” Manning said. “As of right now, that hasn’t happened.”
This isn’t the only concert taking place in Utah over the weekend; news broke of a concert earlier this month regarding a concert in Kaysville, also held by the Utah Business Revival. The show, which will be headlined by country star Collin Raye, is set to take place at Barnes Park. Republican Mayor Katie Witt – a current candidate for Congress in Utah’s 1st District – said she would allow the protest group to hold the concert, noting that “I believe I need to support people’s First Amendment Rights.”
The first post-lockdown concert took place last Monday, May 18 in Arkansas. Country’s Travis McCready performed, with patrons above the age of 10 required to wear face masks. The concert attendance was significantly limited, with temperature screenings at the door and performers at a safe distance.
As concertgoers itch to get back to live events soon, promoter giant Live Nation said the company would test crowdless shows and drive-in movie theater tours this summer.