PCP: Concert attendance

The consensus on concert going — is it worth the risk?

April 29, 2022

Concert attendance is long-awaited, safe with proper precautions

I love concerts. I’ve been seeing live shows since I was around 6 years old, and have attended over 30 since then. When all of the concerts I had lined up to see in 2020 got canceled, I was devastated. Because of these various complications, I didn’t start going to concerts again until October of last year. I was hesitant at first, considering I hadn’t been to a concert since December 2019. But then, I realized a few major points that eased my nerves. 

The main fear I had was that the venues where I was seeing artists wouldn’t have proper COVID-19 regulations. The thought of a huge crowd screaming, singing and dancing in a confined space scared me. But I realized that, by law, the venue management had to follow CDC restrictions. Because the CDC has the best interest of U.S. citizens and their health, they would not be lenient on COVID-19 guidelines of gatherings in big spaces if it would put concert-goers in a vulnerable position.

Although every show seems to have different rules, I have been pleasantly surprised with the safety measures that are being taken. For example, about two weeks ago I went to a concert at the famous First Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. In order to enter the main room, we had to show our tickets and our vaccine cards. If you didn’t have proof of vaccination, you had to show a negative COVID-19 test from the last 72 hours. Once we went inside, I was pleased to see that the majority of attendees were wearing masks. First Avenue also sells masks near the coat check. On their website, they have issued an announcement that, as of June 1, they will not require proof of vaccination or a negative test. However, artists can still request that these rules are enforced.

When this change happens, as with many other venues, First Avenue will have similar COVID-19 policies to that of Park schools. There will be no vaccination requirements or mask mandates, which is exactly what is happening at our school. This makes sense because there are a lot of similarities between school and concerts — hundreds of people in the same place talking, eating, etc. If there aren’t any restrictions in school, why should there be any at concerts? Especially considering some of the hallway traffic jams that occur at Park, the amount of contact a person will experience is not that different.

The COVID-19 cases in both Minnesota and Hennepin County have been low as of late, which is another big reason concerts are becoming increasingly safe. According to the CDC, Minnesota’s COVID-19 cases have gone down by 59% since January. In fact, on April 16, Hennepin County had no newly reported cases. With more and more people having access to the vaccine and booster shots, cases are going down and our anxiety should do the same.

As far as concerns that don’t involve COVID-19 go, every concert is going to have some aspect of risk. Mosh pits and crowding people are just part of the experience, and that is not going to change anytime soon. The Travis Scott concert at Astrofest last year in which nine people died is not a representation of concerts as a whole. In fact, the event is only a characterization of Travis Scott. Many artists, such as Billie Eilish, Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl and Sza have all stopped concerts when they saw a fan was in distress. I attended an Arcade Fire concert where the same thing happened. Although concerts are not inherently dangerous, every show is going to have some sort of risk factor — as would a party, sports event or even going to school.

Before going to a concert, one should assess their current situation and decide on the path that best suits their needs. Those who feel more comfortable wearing masks should do so. The same goes for those who don’t feel that they’re ready to attend concerts again. That’s completely understandable. But for those who have been fully vaccinated, stayed safe for the past two years and feel it is time to return to concerts, I’d say they should go for it.

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Concerts pose COVID-19 risk

With COVID-19 cases lowering, concerts have become much more popular. People feel comfortable removing their masks and being in close proximity with a large crowd. Considering the emergence of the newest strain of COVID-19 named “XE,” precautions still need to be taken in order to ensure public safety. This new strain is stronger and more contagious than previous strains which makes super-spreader events like concerts, unsafe. 

When attending a concert, you are forced to be shoulder to shoulder with the people around you. With the massive amounts of fans at these concerts, germs are very prevalent. Standing so close to these people, and being unmasked on top of that, ensures that illnesses spread throughout the crowd at a very fast rate. 

Some concerts do in fact have COVID-19 safety procedures, such as requiring masks or showing proof of vaccination. However, once the concert starts, many people disregard these procedures entirely. Caution is thrown to the wind and people take off their masks, cough openly, and generally forget about COVID-19 safety. People are getting used to not wearing masks anymore, so they may be openly putting others at risk.

On average, concert attendance ranges anywhere from 500–15,000 people. These numbers constitute those of a super-spreader event, which can be extremely dangerous. At these events, COVID-19 cases have the chance of running rampant. Indoor concerts, especially with such a high magnitude of people, pose serious risks due to the lack of air flow and ventilation. Outdoor concerts are a safer option, but still pose risks of their own.

Finally, physical safety is an aspect that needs to be taken into consideration. For example, at the Astrofest concert held by Travis Scott in 2021, there was a large, prolonged, crowd surge that resulted in the death of 9 people. Countless others sustained serious injuries and were trampled by the aggressive crowd. This has not been the only concert containing dangerous moshing that injured the fans.

Considering the fact that concerts are inevitable and are going to continue to happen, the best and safest option for concerts is to have an outdoor venue and require masks. Though this may not be fool proof, it is the safest method for concerts at this time.

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