As states across the country relax their respective coronavirus restrictions, an Arkansas venue announced it will host one of the industry's first "socially distanced concerts."
According to Billboard, the event will be headlined by country-rock singer Travis McCready and is scheduled to go down on May 15 at TempleLive in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The venue has laid out some of the heightened safety measures that will be implemented for the show, including required face masks and temperature screenings for attendees, a 10-person limit in all restrooms, frequent cleaning of all touch points, and reducing its capacity from 1,100 to 229. The audience will also be divided into what Ticketmaster calls "fan pods," which are clusters of two-12 assigned seats that are six feet apart from other "fan pods."
The concert will take place just three days before Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson will formally allow indoor venues to host live concerts. However, the order states that all gatherings are prohibited from having over 50 people; that's more than four times the amount TempleLive is expected to host for the May 15 concert. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also recommended canceling any event with more than 250 attendees to prevent further spread of COVID-19. But the TempleLive owner doesn't seem too worried about the risks.
"We actually just got off a conversation with the state health department. The governor has done a great job with his administration and how he has handled this," TempleLive's Mike Brown told Billboard. "If you are a church, there are no restrictions on how many people you can have inside as long as they follow CDC guidelines and stay six feet apart. So our position is, a public gathering is a public gathering regardless of the reason, whether you are going to go to a quilting event, a church or a concert. Tell me the difference, because in our opinion it is discriminatory. We’ve got a lot of time and there is an open line of communication and I am the eternal optimist. I think we will be alright."