WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Last year, COVID-19 brought large events, like concerts, to a grinding halt. As things slowly started getting back to normal and events ramped back up, the rapid spread of the highly contagious delta variant has led to substantial increases in both new cases and hospitalizations. So what does this mean for the immediate future of these events in Wilmington?
With sold out shows at Riverfront Park and Greenfield Lake Amphitheater, and the upcoming Azalea Festival street fair, events in Wilmington are back and no additional restrictions, like mask mandates, are being implemented.
But, they could be.
“At this time event organizers are responsible for setting guidance in regards to masks and vaccination status. The city works with event organizers to help determine what’s best for the community,” City of Wilmington Spokeswoman Jennifer Dandron said.
Live Nation manages both amphitheaters in Wilmington and although no mask mandates or vaccine mandates are in place just yet, President Joe Berchtold said that there are changes happening in the industry.
“I think what we’re seeing is a shift to increasing requirements for entry of either vaccinated or tested or fully vaccinated. We had that at Lollapalooza over the last weekend, very successfully done. Over 90 percent of the people were fully vaccinated, which I think was a great signal in terms of people’s commitment and support of being vaccinated in order to go to these shows,” Berchtold said.
It’s not just concertgoers though, Live Nation employees are expected to be vaccinated, according to an email from CEO Michael Rapino, as reported by Port City Daily.
“In support of this model and to continue leading by example, we will be requiring that all employees in the U.S. be vaccinated to enter one of our events, venues or offices – with limited exceptions as may be required by law. This requirement will go into effect October 4, when our offices are set to reopen their doors for flex work, and to allow on-site staff a few weeks to get vaccinated if they haven’t already,” the email reads.
Getting vaccinated is also the recommendation of the City of Wilmington, and doing so could help keep events like concerts and festivals going.
“We’re strongly urging people to get the vaccine you know this time last year we didn’t have a solution like the vaccine, now that we have one were encouraging people to get it, they’re free, there accessible, and they save lives – and they help us from having to put in restrictions,” Dandron said.
At the Wilson Center, things have been operating at partial capacity since last year, according to Executive Director Shane Fernando, but that is about to change. The venue does have a mask mandate in place and Fernando said he expects that to stay in place for the foreseeable future.
The city is taking its guidance from Governor Roy Cooper as well as the CDC and will be working with event organizers in order to keep people safe, but, for the time being, the shows will go on.
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