Florida concert venue Ruth Eckerd Hall will host one of the state’s first socially distant shows as more restrictions on gatherings are lifted.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis announced this week that Florida – with the exceptions of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties – will enter Phase 2 of a three-step plan to reopen businesses across the state on Friday, June 5. Under the directive, gyms and retail stores can operate at full capacity with proper social distancing and sanitizing measures in place, while bars, concert halls and other entertainment outlets can operate at 50 percent capacity.
Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall is planning its return to business with a concert series featuring local artist Greg Billings. The venue’s Kate Tiedemann and Ellen Cotton Cabaret Theatre will host Billings and special guests for a three-show series launching June 11.
In compliance with state orders, the show has imposed a number of safety measures including maintaining a six-foot distance between patrons. Staff will wear face masks with guests encouraged to do the same and masks can be requested at the door. Additionally, the venue will be equipped with several hand sanitizing stations and provide table-side service only. If guests are feeling ill or have any symptoms related to COVID-19, the venue asks them to consider attending another show to reduce the risk of others’ health.
Florida has been one of the most prominent – yet controversial – states regarding a reopening of business and mass gathering restrictions. It was in discussions to hold a potential MLB season, while Walt Disney World properties are to hold NBA teams as the league eyes a summer resumption. However, droves of tourists and locals on popular beaches earlier this spring has drawn criticism of the state’s measures to mitigate the virus’ spread.
Nonetheless, venues are finding creative ways to entertain crowds safely. Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium will transform into a temporary drive-in theater with the Miami Dolphins in the offseason and most of the stadium’s summer concert schedule axed. In Orlando, the country’s first drive-in music festival has been planned for this month, though it was recently postponed amid ongoing nationwide protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.