The live event industry is ultimately halted for the time being, with thousands of festivals and concerts postponed or cancelled throughout the remainder of 2020. While different industry experts have varying opinions on the return of mass gatherings, several epidemiologists have other predictions.
The New York Times asked over 500 epidemiologists when they expect to return to activities that have been put on hold amid the pandemic. While those polled said they’d anticipate doing activities like traveling by bus, training at the gym, or working in an office with others by the end of the year, a majority of those surveyed – 64% – said they would wait a year or more to attend concerts and sporting events.
One surveyor, Vivian Towe of Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, told the Times that concerts and sporting events are among the more high-risk activities and likely bring in more people who are susceptible to the virus. Towe noted that “the addition of alcohol or drugs makes these activities too risky for me to consider anytime soon.”
Additionally, Steve Mooney of the University of Washington told the Times that his responses were “as much about feelings of social responsibility as about personal infection risk.”
“Large-scale gatherings are a contact tracing nightmare and seem like they should be shut down until we have a really good sense of what’s safe/how to screen people,” Mooney said.
Others within the live event industry are much more optimistic; some concerts and festivals have been rescheduled to the fall, while an NFL executive believes stadiums will be full when the season starts.
Currently, promoters, venues, and artists are hoping to keep the spirit of concerts alive by hosting them in different settings. Drive-in movie theater shows have been popping-up across the country, as well as virtual sets and livestreams. Almost all sports leagues have suspended operations for the time being, with lots of different planned scenarios of returning in-the-works.