As acts continue to try to “guestimate” when they can resume touring, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S.’ leading infectious disease expert, has weighed in, telling a virtual conference of performing arts professionals that he believes that theaters and other venues could reopen “some time in the fall of 2021” depending on the vaccination rollout.
According to the New York Times, Fauci told the conference of industry pros that the timeline hinged on the country reaching an effective level of herd immunity (defined as 70 to 85 percent of the population receiving the vaccine) and he also suggested that audiences might still be required to wear masks for some time.
“If everything goes right, this is will occur some time in the fall of 2021,” Dr. 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.”
According to a survey released by Americans for Arts, financial losses nationally are estimated to be $14.8 billion. In addition, more than a third of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations have laid off or furloughed their staff and one tenth of those surveyed were “not confident” they could survive the pandemic.
Fauci explained during the conference that if vaccine distribution succeeded that theaters with good ventilation and proper air filters might not need to place any restrictions for performances taking place this fall with the exception of asking audience members to wear masks. “I think you can then start getting back to almost full capacity of seating,” he said.
He added that another precaution that could be taken is one mirrored by some U.S. airlines suggesting that audience members provide a negative test in order to gain admittance to shows.
Fauci stressed that even though a vaccine is currently being distributed that it is important to stay vigilant concerning public health measures in order to help ensure that the live performance industry can reopen.
“We’ll be back in the theaters — performers will be performing, audiences will be enjoying it,” he said. “It will happen.”