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How 14 Major Cities Are Responding to the Coronavirus

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How 14 Major Cities Are Responding to the Coronavirus

By Noah Yoo and Eric Torres

Expect concert cancellations and postponements as New York, Paris, Seattle, and more ban mass gatherings

As cities across the world continue to monitor developments in the coronavirusoutbreak, public health officials are coordinating with state and federal governments to determine whether or not public gatherings should be canceled to avoid further spread of the disease. ItalyIreland, and Denmark, for example, have issued nationwide lockdown measures to restrict travel and public gatherings. And, as of March 11, Berlin has banned all public events and gatherings numbering more than 1,000 people.

With over 1,000 cases of COVID-19 now confirmed in the United States, states have begun to issue policy recommendations and advisories of their own. New York state has declared a disaster emergency, while counties in California—like Riverside County, which encompasses Indio, home to Coachella—have declared public health emergencies. Health officials are recommending that people practice “social distancing”—like working from home, keeping at least six feet from others, and not going to public gatherings—in an effort to suppress the outbreak.

Festivals and tours are being postponed and canceled. Some concert venues are issuing their own policies that may go beyond the restrictions put in place by government mandates. Below, find an outline of policy measures from major cities across the United States and Europe.

United States

Chicago, IL

Numerous upcoming public events in Chicago have been called off or postponed in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, including the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. While city and state officials promoted social distancing, on March 12, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a ban on all gatherings of 1,000 people or more. He also recommended that events hosting 250 people or more be postponed.

Denver, CO

Colorado Governor Jared Polis declared a state of emergency on March 10, urging the private sector to offer paid sick leave to ill employees in order to stem any outbreak. Most concert venues in the city and its surrounding area have yet to announce cancellations.

Los Angeles, CA

On March 4, Los Angeles County declared a local/public health emergency. In a press release, the Department of Public Health urged sick individuals to stay home and encouraged simple social distancing (e.g., avoiding handshakes and keeping your distance at public events), while noting there is “no current need for significant social distancing measures” at the time.

On March 12, Mayor Eric Garcetti instructed city officials to postpone or cancel all non-essential public community events for crowds of 50 people or more. There’s also a ban in place for all events on city property that are anticipated to host more than 50 people. Goldenvoice-run venues including the Fonda Theatre and the El Rey Theatreannounced that they would be closed until March 31.

Some larger events in the Los Angeles area— such as the Korea Times Music Festival, the annual games conference E3, and Lakers and Clippers games—have been postponed or canceled.

Miami, FL

On March 9, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a public health emergency in the state. In the following days, inconsistencies emerged in reports of “community spread” of COVID-19 in the state. (Community spread is when new cases occur locally without being linked to known foreign travel.) Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading infectious disease expert, who is on the White House coronavirus task force, stated publicly that Florida was a state facing community spread. DeSantis disagreed and claimed that the cluster of infected individuals did not constitute “community spread.”

New York, NY

On March 7, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo declared a state disaster emergency due to coronavirus. As of March 11, most concert venues in New York, including the Apollo Theater and Le Poisson Rouge, are holding programming as scheduled. On March 12, however, Carnegie Hall canceled shows through the end of March. Later that day, Governor Cuomo banned gatheringswith 500 people or more.

As of March 12, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has also declared a state of emergency in the city. During a press conference, he said that larger venues such as Barclays Center, Madison Square Garden, and Radio City Music Hall could be closed for “months” as a result of the precautions being taken. He also emphasized that other gathering spaces with occupancy under 500—including restaurants and bars—would be capped at 50% of their normal occupancy.

Nashville, TN

As of March 11, there are nine confirmed cases of coronavirus in Tennessee, including two in Nashville. City officials have issued a statement encouraging residents to “carefully consider the implications” of holding gatherings of 100 or more people, but have not issued a mandate against them.

Philadelphia, PA

City officials in Philadelphia have advisedindividuals not to attend large public gatherings with more than 5,000 people, such as sporting events or the (now-canceled) St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Concert venues in the city have yet to announce cancelations.

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco has issued a two-week ban on any “non-essential group events,” defined as “any congregation of 50 or more people for any social, cultural, entertainment, or other special event or other non-essential purpose where people are not separated by physical space of at least four feet.” The ban is in effect until Wednesday, March 25. This includes scheduled concerts by acts like Tame Impala and Post Malone, which have been postponed.

Seattle, WA

As of March 10, 190 people in King County have tested positive for coronavirus. Twenty-two people have died, including the first casualty from the disease in the United States. Governor Jay Inslee has banned public gatherings and events with more than 250 people.

The ban has already resulted in the cancelation and postponing of music events; a look at the calendar for the Showbox, for example, shows that all scheduled concerts through March 28 have been postponed or canceled. In response to the ban, the Seattle Symphony will share live broadcasts online.

Washington, D.C.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, March 11. Meanwhile, Congress has shut the U.S. Capitol, House, and Senate buildings to the public until April 1. D.C. Health has advisedthat all gatherings of 1,000 or more people in the district be postponed or canceled through the end of March, in order to combat any outbreak. The Smithsonian museums are all temporarily closed.

In light of the recommendations, venues including U Street Music Hall9:30 Club, the Anthem, and Lincoln Theatre have decided to postpone all of their March programming.


Toronto, Ontario

As new cases of coronavirus are diagnosed throughout Ontario, the city of Toronto has activated its Emergency Operations Centreand is continuing to monitor developments in the outbreak. Concert venues have yet to announce broader cancelations as a result of coronavirus.


Berlin, Germany

Berlin culture minister Klaus Lederer banned all concerts and cultural events with attendees totaling 500 or more through April 19. The ban has led clubs, including Berghain and Trauma Bar und Kino, to cancel or postpone their events to next month. The Berlin Club Commission has formed a coronavirus task force in an effort to find a balance between maintaining public health and ensuring that clubs do not fall into “economic ruin.”

London, England

The United Kingdom is holding in a “containment” phase, as of March 9. While broader social distancing measures have yet to be instituted, entertainment events such as the YouTube on Stage live showcase have been canceled. Organizers for Glastonbury Festival, set to take place June 24–28, say they cannot confirm whether or not the event will take place as scheduled.

Paris, France

France has banned all gatherings of 1,000 or more people in an effort to control the outbreak. While the ban has forced many venues to postpone their March events, some artists have come up with workarounds: Nada Surf, set to play the 1,400-cap venue La Cigale on March 11, made the decision to play two sets that night, in order to comply with the ban, and have fewer than 1,000 attendees in the venue for each set.

This article was originally published on March 12 at 3:30 p.m. Eastern. It was last updated on March 12 at 10:21 p.m. Eastern

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