The summer concert and festival season has been thwarted by the coronavirus pandemic, but promoters in Michigan are growing optimistic that the industry can return in some capacity this fall.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called for a committee of over 100 players in the live events and entertainment industry to convene with the purpose of reopening the state’s tourism sector. After a series of discussions, the committee – whose participants include representatives Live Nation, Detroit Jazz Festival and the state’s professional sports teams – submitted proposed guidelines for mass gatherings and live events.
“There’s a sign of hope here that events can come back sooner than we might have thought,” said Live Nation Michigan president Dave Clark, via the Detroit Free Press. “There’s light at the end of the tunnel now.”
The proposed event recommendations take into account advice from medical experts, including holding any events at a reduced capacity and enforcing social distancing among patrons. Committee members and industry players are hopeful that Whitmer will adopt their proposed guidelines and allow live events sooner than originally anticipated.
Whitmer’s official reopening plan does not call for large events to be held until the sixth and final phase – indicating a vaccine is available or the community has no threat of a spread. Her approval of the committee’s proposal would move mass gatherings up one phase as industry members cite the abundance of other businesses that have reopened with modifications.
“Everybody is trying to move the needle,” said longtime festival producer Jon Witz. “To say we need a cure or vaccine before you can put on an event is a really strong statement when there are so many other businesses that can already operate.”
Safety solutions the committee proposed focus on reducing capacity based on venue size and environment rather than a flat attendance cap. They propose that outdoor venues with no fixed seating allow up to 50 percent capacity, while 25 percent be admitted to outdoor venues with fixed seating. As for indoor venues, fixed seating could allow up to 20 percent capacity and no seating can accommodate up to 40 percent.
Additional safety recommendations were also drawn up for state approval, including detailed protocols for sanitation and maintaining physical distancing in areas that are typically highly congested.
Michigan has seen nearly 60,000 coronavirus cases and is in its fourth phase of reopening.