Naysayers who thought that the panic behind the coronavirus was overblown by media (and their friends on social media) were faced with a flurry of news and developments to change their minds this week, with the rate of infection increasing daily all around the world and a slew of local government-mandated quarantines and large-crowd limits going into effect seemingly by the hour in the U.S., as well as President Donald Trump’s confusing travel ban to Europe.
Here in Los Angeles, the general attitude has been one of concern but not exactly alarm (as of this writing, there have been only 27 cases and one death due to COVID-19 in L.A. County, and the country’s total reported cases is 1,300, with 38 deaths). But after South by Southwest canceled this year’s festival, followed by Coachella on Tuesday and DragCon after that, the announcements of postponed events have been coming in fast and steady, with the NBA suspending its season yesterday and the NCAA and MLB following suit today. Other big canceled events include Winter Music Conference, L.A. Times’ Festival of Books and, just today, Viva Las Vegas.
L.A. Weekly will be inserting [postponed] or [canceled] in headlines to let readers know which events we’ve covered that are no longer going on as scheduled, and we’ll be providing new dates at the end of posts when provided.
While many in L.A. were taking heed and planning on staying home this weekend and beyond in order to “flatten the curve,” others in the music and club world had been assuring L.A. Weekly the past couple days that the show(s) will go on — venues such as the Redwood Bar in downtown, the Hi-Hat in Highland Park, and El Cid and Los Globos in Silver Lake, for example, have all continued to promote gigs this week, though many acts who were coming into town have canceled on them, leaving open slots on their calendars. Checking venues’ websites and social-media outlets before going anywhere is advised.
The cancellations should continue to increase since yesterday afternoon’s announcement by the California Department of Public Health, which stated, “large gatherings that include 250 people or more should be postponed or canceled. This includes gatherings such as concerts, conferences and professional, college and school sporting events.”
While most attention has been given to the 250 cap (which was first set by Seattle on Tuesday), the California recommendation also stated that, “smaller gatherings held in venues that do not allow social distancing of six feet per persons should be postponed or canceled. This includes gatherings in crowded auditoriums, rooms or other venues.”
“Gatherings” are defined as events that bring together people in “a single room or single space at the same time, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, cafeteria or any other indoor or outdoor space,” which would include all clubs, bars and even restaurants in Los Angeles. But unlike New York, which put an official ban on events of 500 or more, L.A. has not done so. Also, local schools are still open as of this writing.
It seems the biggest hot spots in town right now are local supermarkets, which are seeing long lines at the register and out the door as people stock up in the event of an official city lockdown. What started out as a notable shortage on disinfecting wipes and antibacterial hand sanitizers has grown into an apocalyptic dearth of toilet paper, bottled water, canned and dry goods and, at our local Vons, ice cream (we all need comfort food right now).
And just as this was post was to be published, some big news about how all this will affect live music and entertainment was announced. According to several music news outlets, agencies and promoters including AEG, CAA, ICM, William Morris Agency, Live Nation, Paradigm and UTA just announced a unified suspension of all tours this month.
“The world’s leading forces in live entertainment have come together to form a global task force to drive strategic support and unified direction ensuring precautionary efforts and ongoing protocol are in the best interest of artists, fans, staff and the global community,” the coalition said in a joint statement. “At this time, we collectively recommend large scale events through the end of March be postponed. We continue to support that small-scale events follow guidance set by their local government officials. We feel fortunate to have the flexibility to reschedule concerts, festivals, and live events as needed, and look forward to connecting fans with all their favorite artists and live entertainment soon.”
Finally, the happiest place on Earth seemed determine to stay open during this pandemic — which always seemed like a bad idea considering its volume of travelers and touchable surfaces. The theme park saw its share of call-outs on social media this week for staying open, but, just this past hour, Disneyland announced that it too will be closing, starting this weekend and through the end of the month. It’s a small world, after all.
More as this story develops.
Post updated at 3:50 p.m.