Arkansas Governor Says Planned Travis McCready Concert Does Not Comply With Department Of Health Directives
Last week, the first semi-traditional live concert in the United States was announced as certain states begin to reveal plans to loosen their coronavirus restrictions. Travis McCready, the frontman of the country-rock band Bishop Gunn, is scheduled to play a concert in Arkansas at the Temple Live theater this Friday (5/15).
That’s three days before the 5/18 start date that Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said that indoor venues could resume live shows. And though the venue is enforcing social distancing measures — temperature checks at arrival, lids on all beverages, the existence of “pods” of attendees restricted to friends and relatives to maintain a safe distance — the Arkansas governor says the event does not meet the Department Of Health directives.
In a new New York Times article, promoters and local government officials are sparring over whether or not the event is legal and can proceed.
Mike Brown, a representative for the Temple Live venue, says that the regulations as they stand are discriminatory because churches have different restrictions than indoor concerts. Concerts are supposed to limit their audiences to fewer than 50 people and maintain a six-foot distance between attendees. (Right now, the McCready show is selling 229 tickets in an 1,100-seat theater.) Churches, however, have no limits on the number of attendees allowed as long as they maintain the minimum safe distance.
“The directive is discriminatory because the virus does not know if it’s in a body in church or high school or a music venue,” Brown told the Times. “Not that I have anything against church, but if you can go to a church and it’s a public assembly, there is no difference. How is it OK for one group to have a public meeting and it’s not OK for a music venue to have the same opportunity?”
Nevertheless, Governor Hutchison still says the event does not comply with the DoH regulations. “I appreciate the venue owners’ working to enforce social distancing and the wearing of masks to protect the concertgoers, but the concert remains outside of the state’s pandemic directive,” he wrote in a statement.
George B. McGill, the mayor of Fort Hill, AR (the town where the venue is located) said that he hopes the government and the promoters will reach an agreement — “a win-win for all involved,” he said — while also suggesting that McCready maybe should move his show to a slightly later date.
The promoters say the event is close to being sold out, though its Ticketmaster page tells a different story.
McCready, meanwhile, just wants to play music. He told The New York Times that his fans were desperate for new music, and that they could decide themselves whether they felt safe attending his concert: “Each to his own. I am just excited to be playing.”