Features November 13, 2020

How a COVID-19 vaccine could change Australia’s live music

How a COVID-19 vaccine could change Australia’s live music

Pharmaceutical firm Pfizer’s announcement this week about its vaccine breakthrough saw the Australian live entertainment sector breathe a sigh of relief.

The possible vaccine would see a combination of and science play a major role in our experience.

There are still questions as to how long each booster shot will last, however another possible vaccine, developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, has reported a similar immune response in both older and younger adults.

Additionally, the Federal Government has announced its intent to purchase 84 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which could see Australians receiving a shot by 2021.

The issue for the live sector is that any vaccine is unlikely to be mandatory, which means a greater onus on promoters to prove they can responsibly have safe events.

A number of strategies are in the pipeline overseas which Australian fans can expect to undergo. is devising a post-pandemic fan safety framework, Billboard has reported, which includes the use of smartphones to verify if a patron has been vaccinated or contracted the virus in the last 24 to 72 hours.

Under this model, a fan would buy a ticket digitally and have to prove they are vaccinated or have tested negative for the virus. This would involve going to a participating health clinic or lab the day before, or on the day of, showtime.

The verification (but not the person’s results) are then sent to the ticketing agency, which then issues the fan the credentials needed to access the event. Anyone who refuses to go for the test will not be allowed in.

Ticketmaster has emphasised it will not be up to them to determine whether a person is granted entry to an event. It will be the responsibility of promoters to emphasise to patrons not to turn up to the show expecting to be tested at the gate.

Such a scheme would do away with paper tickets, cutting down or possibly eliminating online ticket transfers, and the concept of deciding at the last minute to go to a show.

This kind of screening could also be used for future employment, airline travel, entries to theme parks and, most likely, sporting events.

The Billboard report quoted Ticketmaster president Mark Yovich as saying this screening service will attract a new wave of investors and entrepreneurs to fuel the growth of a new technology sector.

Similarly in the UK, an initiative known as the V-Health Passport could allow events to return to full capacity without social distancing. The system identifies the passport holder’s health status, as well as a contact tracing app for promoters and authorities to detect any clusters before and after the show.

The UK scheme is different from the Ticketmaster idea in that aside from the digital health passport, it includes the use of 10-minute rapid test kits. Buildings can also be geo-fenced, so only people who’ve downloaded the passport and taken a COVID test prior to entry are allowed in.

The adoption of such science and technology could lead to the live music sector returning to full capacity quicker than expected.

Two positive results could also arise from these new tech advancements. Firstly, they could alleviate the fear that music fans are reluctant to go to mass gatherings unless a vaccine is found.

Secondly, they could relax the current policy attitude that concerts and festivals are likely to be spreader events and hence should be the last sector to get rid of social distancing.

Other new realities for Australian live music post-2020 include mobile ordering for concessions and merch, smartphone ticket validation and security checks, staggered patron entry, crowds divided into different zones with dedicated amenities, and heightened contract tracing.

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