Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has officially unveiled plans to lift mask requirements and allow full-size live-entertainment events to resume in The Sooner State.
Oklahoma’s 28th governor announced the imminent rollback of COVID-19 restrictions during a 25-minute-long press conference, dubbed “Get Our Summer Back.” Predictably, given the conference’s title, Governor Stitt struck an optimistic tone when discussing the timetable associated with moving past the crisis and resuming pre-pandemic activities at scale.
“One year later, we’re coming to an end of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “The worst is behind us, and the light at the end of the tunnel is brighter than ever before. Oklahoma, we are on track to get our summer back.”
And in elaborating upon the source of his positive outlook, the governor pointed to the progress that Oklahoman medical professionals have made in administering COVID-19 vaccines. (Inversely, German music-festival promoters earlier this week cited the comparatively slow distribution of vaccines as one of the main reasons behind their 2021 event cancellations.)
“Over 1,000,000 vaccines have been administered,” Stitt said of his approximately 4,000,000-resident state, “and over 400,000 Oklahomans are fully vaccinated. This week we move into phase three of our vaccine rollout. That means 2,000,000 more Oklahomans are now eligible.
“Because of the progress we’ve made, I’ll be issuing a new executive order tomorrow. There will be no statewide restrictions on events or Oklahomans. I’m also removing the requirements to wear a mask in state buildings. More Oklahomans are getting vaccines each day, and the CDC’s new guidelines mean wearing a mask should be a personal decision based on your circumstances.
“But let me be clear: COVID is still here. Still in Oklahoma, it’s still in the United States, and we still need to do our part. You can still – and you’re even encouraged to wear a mask, depending on your circumstances. And I’ve said from the very beginning, the standard for normal cannot be zero cases.”
Two new executive orders have been posted to the Oklahoma secretary of state’s website today, one centering on the state’s driver’s license renewal window, the other detailing the statewide response to the pandemic moving forward.
Needless to say, the continued uptick in vaccinations and the corresponding return of traditional live music bodes well for musicians, who have suffered both financially and in terms of mental health due to lockdown restrictions and large-gathering bans.
Earlier this month, Governor Cuomo announced that New York music venues would be allowed to reopen at 33 percent capacity in April. Plus, some in the British live-event industry have backed the idea of a “vaccine passport.”