California Governor Gavin Newsom has thrown cold water on anyone hoping to attend a concert, music festival or sports event anytime soon.
During a press briefing Tuesday (April 14), Newsom indicated there is no specific timeline for modifying restrictions that have been placed in response to the coronavirus outbreak, but said concerts and mass gathering events are the last things to go back to normal.
Asked how he envisions the summer months, and traditional holiday celebrations like July Fourth and Memorial Day, Newsom said (see video below): "The prospect of mass gatherings is negligible at best until we get to herd immunity and we get to a vaccine. So large-scale events that bring in hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of strangers, all together across every conceivable difference, health and otherwise, is not in the cards based upon our current guidelines and current expectations."
Acknowledging that conditions can change "radically," Newsom added: "When you suggest June, July, August, it is unlikely."
Newsom's comments come just days after Dr. Ezekiel "Zeke" Emanuel, a special adviser to the director general of the World Health Organization, told The New York Times that he doesn't anticipate it to be safe to return to concerts, sporting events and other mass public gatherings for another 18 months.
While musical acts have postponed tours and other events to later this year or early 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Emanuel predicted "fall 2021 at the earliest" for people to return to such events.
He explained: "Restarting the economy has to be done in stages, and it does have to start with more physical distancing at a work site that allows people who are at lower risk to come back. Certain kinds of construction, or manufacturing or offices, in which you can maintain six-foot distances are more reasonable to start sooner."
Emanuel continued: "Larger gatherings — conferences, concerts, sporting events — when people say they're going to reschedule this conference or graduation event for October 2020, I have no idea how they think that's a plausible possibility. I think those things will be the last to return. Realistically we're talking fall 2021 at the earliest."
Emanuel pointed out that there have been resurgences of the coronavirus in cities like Hong Kong and Singapore that have begun opening up and allowing more activity again. He called for "better testing and contact tracing" in such situations.
According to the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention, large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities.
Public health experts have repeatedly expressed their concern that Americans are underestimating how long the coronavirus pandemic will disrupt everyday life in the country.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the the head of the National Institute Of Allergy And Infectious Diseases and part of the White House's coronavirus task force, has said a vaccine may be 12-18 months away, but other experts said it could take even longer.
As the coronavirus disease continues to spread, live event organizers have been canceling or postponing large gatherings, including concerts and festivals.
Entertainers, crew and other workers in the industry have already lost billions of dollars as a result of COVID-19-related cancelations, representing only a small fraction of the financial devastation that will be experienced by workers in the sector as cancelations continue to roll in.