UPDATE: On Friday, Aug. 13, Live Nation said it would require proof of vaccination or a negative test for concertgoers beginning Oct. 4.
PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Even if you already bought a ticket to see your favorite artist perform live, you may be out of luck if you aren’t vaccinated or can’t prove you recently tested negative for COVID-19.
Live Nation and IMGoing, companies operating two of Hampton Roads’ largest music venues, have announced they will allow performers to make those requirements for attendees if they so choose moving forward. Live Nation operates the 20,000-seat Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater in Virginia Beach, while IMGoing books the 6,500-seat Atlantic Union Bank Pavilion in Portsmouth.
Both entertainment companies have made the announcement as the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to rise due to the delta variant, especially among the unvaccinated.
Meanwhile AEG Presents, which owns the Norva in downtown Norfolk, announced its venues nationwide will require all concertgoers and staff to be fully vaccinated no later than Oct. 1. In the meantime, proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours will be required.
“We have come to the conclusion that, as a market leader, it was up to us to take a real stand on vaccination status,” said Jay Marciano, COO of AEG and Chairman and CEO, AEG Presents in a press release. “Just a few weeks ago, we were optimistic about where our business, and country, were heading. The Delta variant, combined with vaccine hesitancy, is pushing us in the wrong direction again. We realize that some people might look at this as a dramatic step, but it’s the right one. We also are aware that there might be some initial pushback, but I’m confident and hopeful that, at the end of the day, we will be on the right side of history and doing what’s best for artists, fans, and live event workers.”
Michael Rapino, president and CEO of Live Nation, recently wrote to employees that the “new processes” allows artists to require the proof of vaccination or show proof of negative test result for entry “where permitted by law.”
“We believe this is a great model, and we have already implemented this successfully at many major shows including Lollapalooza,” Rapino said in his email obtained by multiple media outlets. “We know people are eager to return to live events and we hope these measures encourage even more people to get vaccinated. That is the number one thing anyone can do to take care of those around them and we are encouraging as many shows as possible to adopt this model.”
In addition, all Live Nation employees would be required to have the COVID-19 vaccine by October.
Virginia Beach-based IMGoing is choosing to follow a similar model.
“The health and safety of our patrons, artists, and employees is our top priority,” said Jon Gunter, marketing director for IMGoing, in an email. “Should an artist require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test as a condition for admission, we will fulfill that requirement.”
Ticketholders would be notified of the policy before coming to the show. Those who don’t like the policy don’t appear to have any hope of getting their money back.
In Ticketmaster’s purchase policy, it states “the Event Organizer reserves the right, without refund of any amount paid, to refuse admission to, or eject, any person whose conduct management deems disorderly, who uses vulgar or abusive language, or who fails to comply with Event Organizer Rules.” Live Nation is Ticketmaster’s parent company.
As expected, the move is already receiving applause from some and outrage from others.
Country artist Jason Isbell spent time on Twitter defending his decision to require vaccines.
Gaylene Kanoyton, president of Hampton-based Celebrate Healthcare, said she hopes more artists join him.
“We are not going to get away from this variant and it’s going to keep mutating unless we have more people getting vaccinated and we have to have some boundaries,” Kanoyton said.
For several months now, Kanoyton has been sponsoring concerts at the Paradise Ocean Club at Fort Monroe in Hampton where before anything else, a concertgoer has the chance to get a shot.
She said while there is still hesitancy among the unvaccinated, she believes more than 100 people have now been vaccinated because of the events. At the same time, she wants larger concert venues to have vaccines available outside their gates too.
“You have to be consistent, you have to have the vaccine there,” Kanoyton said.