Live events may not be resuming in either Los Angeles or New York City until 2021, according to the mayors of both cities.
“It’s difficult to imagine us getting together in the thousands anytime soon, so I think we should be prepared for that this year,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer on The Situation Room Wednesday (April 15).
“I think we all have never wanted science to work so quickly,” he continued. “But until there’s either a vaccine, some sort of pharmaceutical intervention, or herd immunity, the science is the science. And public health officials have made very clear we have miles and miles to walk before we can be back in those environments.”
Garcetti’s comments followed similar ones made earlier in the day to CNN by New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, who called large public gatherings “one of the last things that we bring back online.”
“I’ve got to see in my city real steady progress, even to start to think about relaxing some of those social distancing standards even a little bit,” said De Blasio. “I want to get people back to work, of course. I want to get kids back to school. But I think it will take months to go through that whole sequence. And the last thing I want to do is gather 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 people in one place, that’s like the exact opposite of social distancing.”
The statements from both mayors are a grim reminder of just how long it may take before social distancing mandates are lifted in major cities. New York and L.A., both of which are home several major sports arenas and concert venues, are the two largest media markets in the U.S.
Garcetti’s comments followed a Los Angeles Times report that said the mayor told high-level staff during a weekly conference call on Monday large public gatherings, including sporting events and concerts, may need to be put on hold until 2021. A summary of Garcetti’s comments was reportedly shared in an internal Los Angeles Fire Department email. The mayor had previously extended stay-at-home orders until May 15, though he noted restrictions would be eased up on “like a circuit breaker box” that the city would “have the ability to turn … off again should we see outbreaks.”
On the federal level, President Donald Trump has indicated he would like to reopen the U.S. economy by May 1, though many state and local leaders across the country — including Garcetti and De Blasio — have been eyeing far less aggressive timelines given the absence of widespread testing or a vaccine.
New York City has been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic. As of Wednesday, the city had more than 118,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and over 8,000 deaths. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo banned large gatherings indefinitely on March 12.
L.A. — which also saw large gatherings banned on March 12 due to a statewide mandate — has seen over 10,000 coronavirus cases and 360 deaths as of Wednesday.
With virtually all live events canceled or postponed, the touring industry as a whole — which, before the pandemic, had employed 50,000 salaried and contract employees and 200,000 part-time and seasonal workers — as of last month was estimated to lose $10 billion to $12 billion.