As the state begins to open back up on May 4, per Governor Parson order, I’ve seen a lot of “Finally, life can get back to normal.”
But I don’t think that’s going to happen — at least not this summer.
This weekend, St. Joseph would have had its big kick-off to summer with the Apple Blossom BBQ. That’s canceled. The usual staples of summer (Sounds of Summer, Parties on the Parkway, Imagine Eleven) are in question. I suspect it’s all a sign that it’s going to be quieter season than expected.
While I think that, come June or July, some venues will likely try and book some concerts, live entertainment will be largely scarce. Because as much as people want to kickstart the economy by opening barber shops and restaurants, doing so for venues like concert halls and movie theaters, at least in the short term, seems irresponsible.
It’s not to put into question the owners and managers of these places, who care about their customers, but to say that at a restaurant or salon, it’s easier to control the select number of people who walk in. With concerts and movies, which often depend on packing hundreds of people into rooms while handling their drink and food orders, that control is lessened.
I’ve seen local organizations respond accordingly. Robidoux Resident Theatre canceled its summer musical. The mentioned Apple Blossom BBQ won’t happen this year. Concerts at local venues, at least right now, are still being rescheduled for later in the summer or early fall. The summer movie season has pretty much been postponed until fall or 2021.
These are all tough pills to swallow for these organizers, as it loses them revenue streams that often pay for operating costs and hurts local artists also in need of money. But it’s the right approach to keep people safe, and going forward into summer is one that should continue no matter how many businesses reopen in the next month or two.
Talking with organizers, I hear the struggle in their voices of when will be the right time for crowds of people to gather safely. Obviously, no one knows. And no one wants to overcorrect and say “Summer is canceled.” So we’re kicking the can down the road from month to month, hoping that the number of people infected, as well as protective masks, will improve. But we should be prepared to not have many live events to go this summer.
Will it be weird going to Downtown St. Joe in June and not hearing a band like Blue Oyster Culture Club rocking out for hundreds in Felix Street Square? You bet. But the alternative of putting people in danger because of a selfish desire for entertainment is worse.