Live Music Venues: Effects of COVID & Reopening

Posted on: February 3, 2021 by RMS Hospitality

Before COVID-19, musicians toured around freely, bringing in crowds of fans in everything from large arenas to the local dive bar. The shared experience of seeing someone’s favorite artist could be experienced every night practically anywhere you went. But since last March, live music venues have, for the most part, been shut down, closing the stage and shutting off the lights.

Like the annual Coachella Music Festival, many events have been postponed, which will not take place for the second year in a row. There have been many public safety regulation changes since COVID was initially declared a pandemic, from the need to distance to controlling crowds from gathering together socially.

As an industry centered around bringing large groups of people together nearby, how should live music venues reopen amidst an ongoing pandemic without risking outbreaks and lawsuits?

Liabilities of Reopening

Venues within the industry have taken various steps and approaches to reopen. Regardless of the cautious steps a venue might take when reopening, there is no obvious way to avoid potential lawsuits and claims should an outbreak be traced back to a venue. Reopening live music venues exposes them to a myriad of legal actions if an attendee contracts COVID after seeing a show.

In theory, a venue could end up liable for negligence if an attendee can prove they contracted the virus at a particular venue and that the venue’s actions were the cause of their illness. Furthermore, a music venue could face liability for failing to warn attendees before they visited an event there is a possibility of contracting the virus.

To protect against legal action, venues can purchase a Live Music Venue Insurance Program to provide financial help. While the COVID-19 litigation field is still new, negligence claims are not. In this case, having this coverage helps provide a safety net for venues looking to reopen safely and avoid major reputational, legal, and financial pitfalls.

How to Avoid Liabilities While Reopening

While there is no clear way to avoid any liabilities completely, there are steps that venues can take to try to limit their liability. One way venues can mitigate their chances of being held liable is by sticking to the guidelines laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state governments for the best ways to cut down on the risk of exposure in public settings. The CDC has a host of guidelines that venues can follow to help reduce the spread of COVID and mitigate reopening risks.

In addition to the CDC, many states are allowing different establishments to open at limited capacities based on their kind of business. Some states, such as Tennessee and Texas, have allowed venues to open more broadly than others, such as Maine and California, which remain closed for the time being. By following guidelines available to them, venues can do their best to keep their staff and customers safe.

Another way that venues seeking to limit liability is to add a waiver to all ticket purchases and take temperatures at the door while also requiring masks to be worn at all times. Signing a waiver would show that attendees are aware there was an apparent risk of attending a show and knowingly decided to show up at the venue despite the risk.

Even with a waiver in place, venues must still follow guidelines set out by their local governments and the CDC. Some of those guidelines include keeping the number of people allowed inside limited, requiring everyone who attends to wear a mask, and frequently cleaning and disinfecting the venue.

Furthermore, venues also face the possibility of lawsuits from employees who work the events. If an employee contracts COVID at work, they could either put forward a workers’ compensation claim or bring an action for negligence against the business. In some cases, employees are entitled to bring a claim, but the majority of states have not expanded workers’ compensation coverage to include COVID-19.

Currently, employees bringing a negligence lawsuit against the venue they work for would have to prove the same elements as attendees of the event to succeed in a case. While following guidelines set by local governments and the CDC and having attendees sign waivers before entering an event are possible ways of cutting down on risks, those steps are not straightforward ways to completely rid the potential of liabilities.

As live music venues reopen throughout 2021, there is almost no way to avoid the risk of spreading COVID-19 unless everyone is vaccinated. However, there are a variety of steps venues can take to overcome those legal and medical hurdles.

About RMS Hospitality Group

At RMS Hospitality Group, our expertly crafted policies are written specifically for the hospitality industry. We offer custom-tailored solutions to meet any venue’s specific needs. For more information, contact our experts today at (888) 359-8390.

Posted in: Live Music Venue

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