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Dr. Fauci Predicts Shows — With Masked Audiences — to Return This Fall

LAS VEGAS - AUGUST 05: Fans react as Papa Roach performs at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino August 5, 2005 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The rock group is touring in support of the platinum-selling album "Getting Away With Murder." (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said theaters and other venues may open up for shows “some time in the fall of 2021,” depending on the vaccine. In the virtual meeting during the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, he also indicated that audiences may have to wear masks. The country needs to reach an effective level of herd immunity, meaning vaccinating 70 to 85% of the population.

Dr. Fauci said that “If everything goes right … 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.” He indicated that theatres with good ventilation and proper air filters might not need to place many restrictions for performances by the fall — except for audience masking. “I think you can then start getting back to almost full capacity of seating,” he said.

recent survey by Americans for the Arts states the financial loss for this field is around $14.8 billion. With a lot of venues shut down for good and staff at nonprofit arts and cultural organizations laid off or furloughed, things will never return to the way they operated pre-pandemic. 

Back in July, there were similar estimates. Former WME global head of music/Lollapalooza co-founder Marc Geiger said on the Bob Lefsetz Podcast that he didn’t expect live music to resume “late ’21, more likely ’22.”

Of course, some people haven’t been abiding by the rules. There was that time last month that Steel Panther played three packed, maskless shows in Florida. NME reported that social distancing and masks, though apparently required by the venues, didn’t happen. Hopefully, musicians and fans can just wait a little bit longer for their live music fix.