After months of treating “night club” like a dirty word Boris Johnson makes a statement, Daytona 500 hosts fans for a “Party in a Pandemic” and NYC stadiums will welcome fans back beginning next week
PM Boris Johnson finally addresses a potential plan to reopen the nighttime industry
The biggest news coming out of the UK this week was PM Boris Johnson’s speech where, for the first time, he acknowledged the suffering night clubs that have had closed signs on their doors for nearly a year. The prime minister reiterated the plan to have the majority of the adult population vaccinated by fall and by supplementing with lateral flow testing, the night time industry (including night clubs and music venues) could reopen by September. He stressed that there was still a long way to go and the conversation was only beginning.
Some have expressed concerns that implementing the infrastructure required to conduct on-site rapid testing was not financially viable for the already drowning sector. As it stands, at least 80% of night clubs expect not to reopen at all if the government doesn’t intervene. There are also some critics citing the decline in reliability of test results when the test isn’t administered by trained medical professionals. Though it won’t be easy, others are optimistic that with enough government support, the industry will be able to plan ahead and come up with a creative solution to reopen safely.
Stay tuned, the UK government is expected to release a plan to liberate people from lockdown and reopen businesses on Monday, February 22.
NASCAR fans “Party in a Pandemic” at the Daytona 500
Florida has made the news...again. The Daytona 500 took place on Sunday and ousted the prior week’s Super Bowl for the top spot as the largest sporting event in nearly a year.
Considering the annual event usually attracts over 100,000 people for a weekend long party, limiting the capacity to 30% was a step in the right direction; however, the lack of social distancing and maskless fans made the entire thing a different kind of spectacle than usual. There was a general “if I get sick, I get sick” mentality amongst race-goers. Despite the organizers best efforts with signage, cashless payments, distanced seating assignments and temperature checks, “The Great American Race” was the poster child for irresponsible behavior during a pandemic through no fault of the event professionals in charge. Meanwhile, the Australian Open only welcomed fans back on Thursday after a 5 day lockdown was imposed in Melbourne due to the appearance of a few new COVID cases.
The unconcerned attitude of many fans raises tough questions about how to keep people safe when they’re not worried about it themselves. Event organizers and venues can make countless preparations to ensure the safety of attendees and reduce risk, but there’s only so much that can be done if people adopt a lackadaisical attitude toward the virus. Preparing for every uncertainty is part of the job and this is going to be just one of the many challenges to bring back live.
The Garden and other NYC venues get the green light to bring back the fans
Following Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement last week regarding NYC venues to reopen to in-person events, the most famous arena in the world will be opening its doors to fans starting February 23. Madison Square Garden, home to the Knicks (NBA) and Rangers (NHL), has been hosting fanless games since March 12, 2020 but will be swinging the doors wide open and welcoming back fans the moment it’s allowed.
All state arenas will operate at 10% capacity with a number of other strict protocols in place. Staggered entry times, proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the event and on-site health screenings will all be implemented. While concerts have also been approved by the governor, there’s no word yet on when venues will begin hosting other forms of entertainment.
Although it is still far from returning to ‘normal’ in person events, it is a step forward.