A venue in Fort Smith, Arkansas, is set to host a concert with Bishop Gunn’s Travis McCready May 15th in what could be one of the first live music events since most large public gatherings were shut down to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The concert will take place at TempleLive and the event page on the venue’s website offered a detailed breakdown of the rules put in place to keep attendees safe. They include reducing the 1,100-capacity venue to 229, sanitizing the venue prior to the event, making masks available to purchase, implementing one-way walkways through the venue and conducting temperature checks at the entrance. There will also be a 10-person limit for the bathrooms and seating will be divided into clusters to keep all groups and “fan pods” six feet apart from each other (although individual tickets are $20 each, each cluster of seats must be purchased together).
News of the concert broke last week, with TempleLive’s Mike Brown telling local NBC affiliate KNWA: “From what we can tell, this is the first announced live show in the country since we were all shut down from COVID-19… This isn’t going to be a thing to make money with, but it’s a step back toward normalcy and best practices that we can institute… The financial side is not something that we were really concerned with. We wanted to give something back to the community.”
As the Arkansas Times reports, the McCready concert is scheduled to take place three days before Governor Asa Hutchinson is set to lift the state’s order that forced all large indoor venues to close. However, even when that order is lifted, state directives still call for all gatherings to have an audience of no more than 50 people — far fewer than TempleLive’s already reduced 229 person cap for the McCready show.
Still, Brown seemed confident that the show would be allowed to go forward, telling Billboard: “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. 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.”
Even as states like Arkansas start to lift rules on large gatherings, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommend canceling all events of over 250 people to limit the spread of COVID-19.