Arkells concert at Budweiser Stage in Toronto under fire for lack of health enforcement
The Budweiser Stage at Ontario Place came alive this past weekend after almost two years of quiet for a long-awaited return to large concerts in Toronto, but people are not pleased with the venue and promoter's apparent lack of safety precautions
The Arkells return to the stage was hailed by one newspaper as a "firm extended middle finger to the pandemic, a defiant celebration of a returning to form," though some concert-goers are saying that this same middle finger may have also been extended to health and safety protocols.
Anyway, this weekend I'm seeing my first shows back since COVID began. Arkells three nights in a row. A band I've seen live over 60 times in multiple countries, who were part of my obsessive travelling &who have absolutely seen me at my worst. And who are a band I love *so* much.— Sam :-) (@plsplaycircles) August 12, 2021
According to the newspaper, promoter Live Nation Entertainment's screening measures are practically nonexistent, claiming that "no temperatures are being taken. No questions are asked as to whether you're double-vaccinated. Once through the gate, you're handed a packet of disinfectant wipes."
A few other safety precautions were put in place by organizers, including selling seats in alternating rows to better accommodate physical distancing.
Many say that not enough was done to keep crowds safe as fears of the aggressive delta variant kept many would-be attendees at home.
Reddit user Unhelpful_Soundman identifies himself as a crew member for a different live music stage on the Ontario Place grounds operating this weekend.
"We have COVID screening, contact tracing, temperature checks, social distancing, mask-wearing, and performer isolation areas."
"It's heartbreaking to hear that the Budweiser Stage has fewer COVID safety procedures in place than our smaller venue. All of us in the live events industry have been hurting. By not doing our best to keep people safe, we're almost guaranteed to get shut down again in the fall. Please Live Nation, Budweiser, Arkells - your actions affect the rest of us."
The show's reception on social media has been mixed, some excited for the chance to see live shows again and others throwing shade at the band and fans willing to risk their health to attend.
Y’all are all about to get covid for THE ARKELLS? The arkells??????!— sara (@srwdcck) August 15, 2021
Another Reddit user, beem88, speaks of his experience attending the show, saying "I was there on Friday and was quite disappointed in the majority of the crowd's disregard for staying masked. The rules are just completely arbitrary."
"A venue with 15,000 people although outdoors had maybe 40 per cent of the crowd wearing masks. Everyone singing along and dancing, no one distanced because how could they be?"
"Yet, go to a restaurant and you have to wear a mask just to sit at a table outside with no one around and they put plastic dividers up everywhere. It's completely arbitrary and kind of makes the last year and a half of sacrifices by so many people a joke."
Many are understandably delighted to be able to attend concerts again, and concerns about crowding, mask, and vaccine enforcement weren't enough to deter the excitement for most.
Increased measures could soon be on the way for future concerts, with Live Nation announcing that proof of full vaccination or a negative test will be required for those attending their US shows starting October 4.
It is still unknown if similar rules will apply to Live Nation Canada shows.
Live Nation has been anticipating the return to venues for quite some time, launching the Budweiser Stage at Home series in 2020 to bring shows to viewers at home.
Live Nation tells blogTO that "the safety of fans, artists, and staff is always our top priority, and Budweiser Stage is sure to meet or exceed all provincial guidelines as outlined by the health authority under the current phase of reopening plans which currently includes a reduced venue capacity."
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