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Concerts and music festivals are some of the most popular forms of entertainment around the world, and for good reason — they’re extremely fun (in my opinion)! Before COVID, artists would usually dedicate several months each year to tour their newly-released albums. However, because of the coronavirus, there was an abrupt halt to these for the past almost two years now. 

But with vaccination rates rising, artists are finally coming back to the stage. Obviously, this is very exciting news. Who hasn’t missed seeing Harry Styles’ different outfits while he’s on tour? But is it the smartest decision health-wise? 

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Global Citizen music festival (shoutout to my lovely roommate Grace for giving me her extra ticket), and even though I was seriously excited to see my one true love Shawn Mendes perform, I was also extremely nervous I might contract COVID and possibly spread it to my friends. After this surreal moment, I thought I’d write about my personal experience going back to live performances in this COVID-ridden world and ask others who have also attended concerts lately what they thought about the public health & safety measures implemented at them. 

As soon as my friends and I arrived at the festival, we were asked for proof of vaccination and an ID to confirm that it was indeed our own vaccination card. Knowing that only fully vaccinated people were allowed to enter the festival was a little relieving. Furthermore, masks were mandatory throughout the whole festival, which lasted from 4 pm to 10 pm. My friends and I wore our masks the whole time; I even double-masked. Nevertheless, we could see that even just at the line to get inside the festival, people were already discarding them. This was super distressing, especially because even though I knew it was the attendees’ responsibility to follow guidelines, no one from Global Citizen ever asked them to put them back on. The only real positive I would say was the fact that because the festival took place in Central Park, the outdoor space was huge and people could sit alongside their friends while still maintaining a decent distance from strangers, which was definitely comforting.

I wanted to know what other people thought about this topic so I asked two friends who recently attended different events for their opinions. My friend Angelic Molos recently went to one of Harry Styles concerts at Madison Square Garden and this is what she had to say: 

Me: Do you know if there were any COVID guidelines implemented for the concert?

Angelic: Everyone was supposed to wear their mask the whole time unless they had to eat/drink. After, they were expected to put it back on.

Me: Do you think these guidelines were taken seriously by the attendees and MSG workers?

Angelic: The guidelines were taken seriously by workers. They all were masked properly or double-masked, and often told others to keep it on correctly. Most people wore their masks in the seated areas but I know for sure that not everyone did. I did see a lot of people kindly calling out their neighbors for not wearing their masks correctly which made me happy. In the pit, mask-wearing was taken more seriously but that makes sense as you’re much closer to each other.

Me: Did you feel safe attending the event?

Angelic: I was double-masked the entire time and did not stop to drink or eat so I felt extremely safe.

Moreover, my friend Stephen Connelly saw Faye Webster live and his answers are somewhat similar to Angelic’s.

Me: Do you know if there were any COVID guidelines implemented for the concert?

Stephen: Masks and vaccines were required.

Me: Do you think these guidelines were taken seriously by the attendees and MSG workers?

Stephen: About half of the people were wearing masks properly. 

Me: I felt reasonably safe because people were vaccinated, but everyone was packed together and singing, which collects matter from deeper in the throat and is linked to superspreader events.

All of our responses are a little different, but a common theme seems to be that it is a good thing when live events require proof of vaccination. I personally don’t feel very safe attending live performances but I also realize that this is our new normal, and while the fact that many activities that were temporarily paused because of COVID are finally resuming is a little scary; with the right precautions, we should be able to have a safe and fun experience. I know I will when I see Mr. Harry Styles on Halloween!

Pia Velázquez is a freshman at Barnard College who plans to study Human Rights. She spends her time swing dancing with her roommate and hanging out by the philosophy building at Columbia.
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