As the wait for clearance for live events to return at anything resembling “normal” levels continues, Live Nation has informed 76 employees at House of Blues in Cleveland that their furlough period has been extended, per a Worker Adjustment and Retraining (WARN) filing unearthed by Cleveland.com.
The venue has been closed since mid-March, as Gov. Mike DeWine rapidly shut the state down in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Impacted employees have been laid off since April.
“We still cannot determine at this time the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business or when government officials will allow the live event industry to resume normal operations,” Live Nation’s filing reads. “As a result, this continued temporary furlough may be considered a ’termination,’ ‘mass layoff’ or ’site closing’ for purposes of the federal WARN Act…”
“The long-term nature of these circumstances was not reasonably foreseeable until recently when the full impact of COVID-19 became more clear and shelter-in-place orders were extended and/or reissued and state and local governments issued orders and/or guidance restricting the operation of numerous industries, including the live concert industry,” the filing continues.
“As a result, we have notified affected employees that it was only as of this month that it became somewhat foreseeable to the Company that the extension of the furlough would likely last beyond 6 months.”
Live Nation has made several moves to sustain its core operations since the spring, including layoffs, salary reductions, and tapping of lines of credit to increase cash flow. In its Q2 earnings report, the company said its revenue was off by approximately 98 percent compared to the prior year.
In Ohio, government officials recently unveiled their initial stage of reopening for entertainment venues, capping attendance at “the lesser of 15 percent of fixed-seat capacity or 300 people” for indoor venues such as House of Blues. This would mean a maximum attendance of 150 should the hall run an event. Outdoor venues are similarly capped at 15 percent, though the maximum is 1,500 should the venue be large enough.