Dr. Fauci: Live Events Will Be Safe When 70-85% of the Population Is Vaccinated

Dr. Fauci vaccine

Photo Credit: Blueraspberry / CC by 4.0

Dr. Fauci says at least 70% of the population will need to receive the vaccine before live events can safely return.

At a virtual conference hosted by the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, the top infectious disease expert detailed what a return of live events may look like. At around 70-85% vaccination, events may be safe again.

“If everything goes right, this will occur sometime in the fall of 2021,” Dr. Fauci told attendees. “So that by the time we get to the early to mid-fall, you can have people feeling safe performing onstage as well as people in the audience.”

The APAP conference was moved online this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has taken a massive toll on the performing arts, as outlined by the advocacy group Americans for the Arts. Financial losses in the United States alone are estimated to be more than $14.8 billion.

That’s because more than a third of non-profit arts and culture organizations have laid off their staff. A tenth of those organizations aren’t sure they will survive to see the end of the pandemic.

Dr. Fauci said theaters and concert halls with proper ventilation and air filters might not need so many restrictions after the vaccine.

However, he says audience members wearing masks will continue to be the norm. “I think you can then start getting back to almost full capacity seating,” Fauci says, if proper precautions are followed.

Some performers and artists are upset about how restrictions are doled out. Some restaurants, bars, and places of worship remain open, while theaters and concert halls are closed. Dr. Fauci says the ventilation in these settings impacts those restrictions.

Specifically, Fauci referred to a German study of indoor concerts staged by scientists back in August. The study suggests that indoor events have a “low to very low” impact on the spread of the virus, as long as organizers follow strict requirements in regards to ventilation and airflow, hygiene protocols like wearing masks, and observe limited capacity.

Dr. Fauci says more studies like this are needed to help determine the impact of live concerts on virus spread. “What the performing arts need to do is to do a little bit more of what the Germans are doing,” Fauci told attendees.

He also recommended live events follow some of the protocols established by U.S. airlines. Some airlines require passengers to provide a negative test result before they fly. Similarly, the performing arts industry could require audience members to submit a negative test before attending a live event.