Dr. Anthony Fauci says that theaters and other live entertainment venues could reopen "some time in the fall of 2021."
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases gave an update on when he thinks the performing arts will be able to reopen during a virtual conference held by the Association of Performing Arts Professionals.
According to The New York Times, Fauci said that the country will have to reach an effective level of herd immunity, which requires vaccinating from 70 percent to 85 percent of the population, before theaters and other venues will be able to reopen.
"If everything goes right, this is will occur some time in the fall of 2021," Fauci said, "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."
Fauci went on to say that if vaccine distribution succeeded, theaters with good ventilation and proper air filters might not need to place many restrictions for performances by the fall — except asking their audience members to wear masks, which he suggested could continue to be a norm for the foreseeable future.
Small live music and entertainment venues have been hard-hit during the coronavirus pandemic, with 90 percent of venue owners, promoters, and bookers previously reporting they were at risk of closing without additional financial assistance and an estimated $9 billion in losses.
Last month, congressional leaders announced a new COVID-19 relief bill that will include funding for independent music venues that have been closed throughout the pandemic.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a statement saying the long-overdue $900 billion stimulus deal bill includes "$15 billion in dedicated funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions."
Also in December, concert trade publication Pollstar released its year-end report in which it said that the total lost revenue for the live events industry in 2020 was more than $30 billion. This figure includes "unreported events, ancillary revenues, including sponsorships, ticketing, concessions, merch, transportation, restaurants, hotels, and other economic activity tied to the live events."