MILWAUKEE - A lot of people are looking forward to summer festivals, stadium events, and travel. But, what will it take for our favorite events to return to normal?
Contact 6 reached out to several local venues about proof of vaccination requirements.
If music brings people together, it’s no surprise The Cheap Shots are finding gigs hard to come by. Of the 20 festivals the Milwaukee cover band booked in 2020, every event was called off due to the coronavirus.
"For live musicians, for live music venues, it's just devastating," said Josh Quinn, the band’s lead singer. "[In 2021, our calendar is full but we may not have any of those shows."
What will it take for the City of Festivals to reopen its gates? Or, for the crowds to return to Lambeau Field?
At a recent press conference, Bucks president Peter Feigin said proof of vaccination may be coming to Fiserv Forum.
"I do think the future is going to be, those who are vaccinated will have access to seating protocols that might be different to those who are not," said Feigin.
Bucks president Peter Feigin
But, would proof of vaccination fly at events like State Fair or Summerfest?
"I think it's a case by case basis," said William Sulton, a trial lawyer with Gingras, Thomas and Wachs. "What a restaurant should do, I think, is different than what a shopping mall should do."
Sulton says venues must weigh the importance of access with their obligation to keep people safe.
"If they fail to do so, they could be subject to liability," said Sulton. "I think it’s good to talk about vaccinating folks and requiring vaccines as the price of entry or admission to a business."
Can it legally be done? Sulton says "yes."
"In terms of whether we should be doing this as a society, I really think that's a political question," said Sulton.
Whether it’s likely to happen, is another question entirely.
"Everything is possible," said Quinn. "But, it is so unlikely in my opinion, that I can't imagine it happening at any of the festivals that we play."
With summer festivals still months away, venues are hesitant to make predictions.
The Wisconsin State Fair tells Contact 6 it will "be focused on heightened safety measures" and will be "continuously monitoring the science, data and statistics."
Aaron Popkey, Director of Public Affairs for the Green Bay Packers, says they "haven’t spoken at that level of detail," but will "help spread the message of the importance of vaccination."
Venues and festivals aside, the travel industry is also looking into vaccine requirements as a possibility for revival.
Jeanne Reuter of Bayside Travel says airlines are exploring the idea of "health passports" that would verify negative test results and, eventually, vaccination status.
"I've definitely advised some clients, "if you're on the bubble about getting the vaccine and want to travel, get the vaccine," said Reuter.
For those on the festival circuit, like The Cheap Shots, it all hinges on whether vaccinations amp up, cases go down, and festivals can strike the right chord between safety and fun.
"Every festival, every venue, wants to open up and entertain," said Quinn.
In a recent AAA survey, 31% said proof of vaccination would deter them from visiting a destination, 32% said it would encourage them to visit, and 37% said it would have no impact on their decision.
Statement from Wisconsin State Fair officials
"The Wisconsin State Fair staff is working tirelessly planning the 2021 Wisconsin State Fair, August 5 - 15. Safety of our fairgoers, vendors, staff, and partners remain our top priority.
"We will be focused on heightened safety measures and sanitization protocols throughout the Fair Park. Programming is continually being analyzed to ensure compliance based on restrictions at the time of the Fair, which is approximately 6 months away. We remain cautiously optimistic moving forward and are continuously monitoring the science, data, and statistics surrounding the pandemic."
Aaron Popkey, Dir. of Public Affairs for Green Bay Packers
"Regarding your question, we haven’t spoken at that level of detail for next season. Our focus now is to simply help spread the message of the importance of vaccination to society as a whole, as that is what experts say is needed to return to normal activities, including mass gatherings such as sporting events."