Way back in April, when the COVD-19 pandemic was still in its early days, the oncologist and bioethicist Zeke Emanual suggested that large communal gatherings, like live shows, probably wouldn’t be safe until “fall 2021 at the earliest.” At the time, most of us greeted this news with horrified disbelief. But after months of grinding uncertainty, fall 2021 suddenly doesn’t seem so far off. This past weekend, Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s most trusted authority on the pandemic, confirmed that live music could potentially return sometime in the fall. At this point, that counts as good news.
The New York Times reports that Fauci had a virtual conference on Saturday with people in the performing-arts world. During that call, Fauci gave a vague timeline for when music venues and theaters might be able to reopen. It’ll require American authorities vaccinating somewhere between 70-85% of the population, bringing us to herd immunity.
Here’s what Fauci said:
If everything goes right, this is will occur some time in the fall of 2021, so that by the time we get to the early to mid-fall, you can have people feeling safe performing onstage as well as people in the audience… I think you can then start getting back to almost full capacity of seating. We’ll be back in the theaters — performers will be performing, audiences will be enjoying it. It will happen.
This probably isn’t much comfort to artists like the Weeknd, Rage Against The Machine, and Justin Bieber, who rescheduled last summer’s arena tours for summer 2021. Fauci’s reassuring words also assume that the COVID vaccines will be efficiently rolled out, and that hasn’t really happened yet. Still, it’s something.