Maroon 5 will keep a scheduled Sept. 2 date at Budweiser Stage in Toronto after the land border between Canada and the U.S. reopened last week to fully vaccinated Americans and permanent residents, Billboard has learned.
After being closed to non-essential travelers since March 18, 2020, the newly re-opened border means U.S. acts can finally perform again in Canada. As of Sept. 7, Canada plans to allow in all other fully vaccinated foreign nationals.
“This step opens possibilities to get Canada back on the touring map for sure,” Arthur Fogel, chairman of global touring, Live Nation, tells Billboard in an emailed statement. “Some artists already have shows planned with more conversations picking up.”
A spokesperson for Live Nation confirmed to Billboard that Maroon 5 will be the first major U.S. act to perform in Canada since the pandemic began early last year.
Vaccinated Americans and permanent residents must submit proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their arrival to Canada. The vaccinations must have been administered at least 14 days before entry.
A steady stream of concerts in Canada featuring U.S.-based artists — most for dates in 2022 — have gone on sale this summer, including John Mayer, The Killers, Sebastian Maniscalco, Elton John and Sepultura.
On the books from October through December of this year are shows in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver featuring Ricky Martin with Enrique Iglesias, Lemonheads, Maluma, Genesis, Gary Numan and Ricky Gervais.
“For now, it’s good news,” CAA’s Bruno del Granado, who represents Martin and Maluma, tells Billboard. “Obviously, it’s day by day.” (Both artists live in the U.S.)
Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said last week that Canada had entered a fourth wave of coronavirus cases, with numbers steadily rising since mid-July. In the week leading to Aug. 13, there were 7,902 new virus cases reported in Canada, an increase of 58% over the previous week, according to Canada’s Public Health Agency.
The majority of new cases are among the unvaccinated, with case rates the highest among those aged 20 to 39. Just over 24 million people, or 64% of Canada’s population, are fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The border reopening will likely benefit concert crews in North America. Artists living overseas typically hire the majority of their crew in North America to cut down on travel and production costs. Depending on tour routing, an artist might fly into Canada, while road crew (and gear) cross into Canada by land.
While Canadian citizens and residents can fly to the U.S. they are still not allowed by U.S. officials to cross the border by land.
As of Aug. 13, Canada mandated that travelers show proof of vaccination to travel by air, interprovincial train and cruise ships. (Canada previously allowed residents to travel without such proof.)
Concerts with homegrown headliners have already started back up in Canada. Rock band Arkells did a three-night stand this past weekend at Budweiser Stage in Toronto, with Sam Roberts Band, Blue Rodeo and Dean Brody scheduled to follow.
Depending on the province, face masks are required to be worn indoors and at outdoor events, when people are not able to maintain a six-foot distance, except when eating or drinking.
As of now, most venues are not requiring proof of vaccination or negative Covid tests to attend a concert, but that is changing. Tuesday, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which owns Scotiabank Arena (home of the Raptors and the Maple Leafs), said those health and safety protocols go into effect mid-September for all staff and attendees. (The Maluma, Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias shows are both taking place at Scotiabank.)
The province of Quebec will institute a vaccine passport on Sept. 1 for people to attend non-essential events. Politicians in Ontario and other provinces are discussing similar options.
“God only knows with the Delta variant what tomorrow is going to bring,” Granado says. “All the artists are obviously concerned about it. They all want to make sure the fans are staying healthy, and they don’t walk in and walk out with a virus.,” Granado says.
“We’re treading in uncharted waters here every single day and we’re just hoping for the best, really.”