511 epidemiologists were surveyed about our eventual return from coronavirus shutdowns in a new article from The New York Times. Among the list of public activities touched on in the piece, the respondents shed some light on when they would be comfortable attending live gatherings like sporting events, concerts, and plays.
This comes following a roundtable discussion published in The New York Times Magazine in April in which bioethicist Zeke Emmanuel predicted that concerts would not be able to safely return until fall 2021 at the earliest.
In this new survey of epidemiologists, respondents were asked when they would be comfortable going to a particular type of event. They were asked to rank their return as either “this summer,” “three to 12 months,” “one year plus,” or “never again.” Activities most of them would be comfortable taking part in this summer included bringing in the mail without precautions, getting a haircut, and vacationing overnight within driving distance.
Most respondents were comfortable doing things like attending a small dinner party, sending their kids to school or daycare, riding the subway, and visiting elderly relatives within the next three to 12 months. As for attending a sporting event, concert, or play, however, 64 percent of respondents indicated they would not be comfortable doing so for a year or more. One percent of the 511 epidemiologists surveyed indicated that they would never again attend a sporting event, concert, or play, but another 16 percent stated they would be comfortable doing so by next spring.
In a way, this merely confirms Zeke Emmanuel’s prediction from April, stating that large-scale public gatherings would not return until fall 2021. But, on the positive side, it also shows that we are not moving backwards. Reading through that New York Times Magazine roundtable from less than two months ago is somewhat inspiring today, as many of the recommendations Emmanuel prescribed were adopted across the country. As a result, his predictions on the gradual reopening of the economy by June have also come true.
The message here is not one to lament over the lengthy waiting period, but to celebrate the fact that the needle is moving in the right direction. There was a time, back in March, when we were told that concerts were canceled indefinitely. Though it may still feel like social life has lost all meaning, there seems to be a somewhat reliable timetable as to when live music events and the industries surrounding them will return.
Read the full New York Times survey here.