Arkansas to host first “socially distant concert” next week

Tickets can only be purchased in "fan pods".

Arkansas has become one of the first US states to resume live concerts once more, with social distancing measures firmly in place.

Travis McCready, frontman of country-rock band Bishop Gunn, will deliver an “intimate solo acoustic performance” at Fort Smith’s Temple Live on May 15, although extensive social distancing measures will be in place to assure the safety of fans.

Tickets can only be purchased in “fan pods” of 2-12 seats, each of which will be some six feet apart from the next group, and the venue’s capacity has been reduced by a massive 80% from 1100 to 229 seats.

Face masks, which will be available for purchase at the event, are also required for all attendees and employees in order to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Fog sprayers will also be used to sanitise the venue before and after the event, while bathroom restrictions will also be in place at all times.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson initially announced on Monday that indoor venues could resume live shows as of May 18.

Festival crowd

However, this is some three days after McCready’s show is set to take place — and the guidelines state that all shows must take place with fewer than 50 people in attendance and strict social distancing guidelines.

Hutchinson’s move comes after Missouri Governor Mike Parson confirmed plans for live concerts to be held in the state from last Monday (May 4).

According to the new plan, large events and gatherings will no longer be banned in the state, but “seating shall be spaced out according to social distancing requirements” at any concerts or cinema screenings.

Despite this, many local government agencies in Missouri’s major cities – St. Louis, Kansas City and more – will stick to their own reopening plan, not welcome back live concerts or large gatherings just yet, with St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson saying: “We will continue to be guided by data, not dates.”

Healthcare experts in the US have predicted that live concerts will not return until Autumn 2021, with a poll finding that most American gig-goers would rather wait until a vaccine is found until attending shows again.

Meanwhile, a number of UK venues have spoken to NME about their concerns and requirements if socially-distanced indoor gigs were to be allowed in the coming months, with the Music Venue Trust detailing that a number of safe and financially viable solutions were being discussed.