We have hit an awkward point in the pandemic where concert and sports stadiums are open across the country while the delta variant is raging in areas where vaccination numbers are low. To create a safer environment, some venues are requiring masks, vaccinations or a negative COVID-19 test to enter.
In the NFL, the Buffalo Bills and Las Vegas Raiders have put vaccination mandates in place. In the world of music, Jason Isbell, Maroon 5, Foo Fighters and Dead & Company have made similar requirements for their fans to attend gigs.
Unvaccinated people are three times more likely to spread COVID-19 than those who got the jab. People who are vaccinated have about a one in 5,000 chance of catching the virus and a one in 10,000 chance in places where risks are lower.
One performer who took a huge hit in the wallet and disappointed a lot of fans by canceling his concerts due to COVID-19 concerns is Garth Brooks.
Brooks launched a stadium tour in 2019 and put it on hold when the pandemic hit in 2020. He started up again this July, but after four shows he shut it down due to the rise of the delta variant.
“The thing that scares me that you have to look it is: I never saw the second wave coming,” he said. “I didn’t know there was going to be such a thing. Well, is there a third wave? So you just watch this.”
“I’m vaccinated, 100% vaccinated. Everybody on the freakin’ tour, vaccinated. I cannot make you get vaccinated. Until it becomes a law, it is a choice. And people, when things are a choice, you have to understand and respect that we’re all going to make our own choices,” he said.
Brooks’ team refunded 350,000 tickets when he could have kept playing and putting lives at risk.
Brooks and his band want to keep playing so they’re doing a tour that will make a lot of people happy while keeping them safe. He’s announced a dive bar tour where attendees will have to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. He believes that smaller venues have a better shot at enforcing mandates than large stadiums.
“The dive bars are vaccinated, that’s how you get to do it,” Brooks said in a recent Facebook Live. “So, the great thing about this is, [the fans are] vaccinated or they have to show a three-day negative in-advance test.”
For Brooks, it’s all about safety.
“The joy I have seen in everyone’s faces as live music returns has been more than worth our constant diligence to maintain safety protocols not only for the fans, but for our band, the crew and the hard-working staff in these stadiums,” Brooks said. “Their dedication to safety for the people who fill those seats has been a miracle to watch and a blessing to receive. I am truly grateful.”
One day, we’ll be able to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us, and artists such as Brooks will be able to look back at how they handled the situation and take pride in the fact that they put the safety of people first.