Update: President Trump Releases Nationwide Guidelines To Avoid Gatherings Of 10+ People; Petition Requesting Industry Aid Circulates

– Covid-10
The live event industry in the U.S., already seeing the mass cancellation of large tours and shutting down of major markets, may be facing a complete stoppage, as President Trump issued strict nationwide guidelines Monday stipulating that Americans should avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. 

“My administration is recommending that all Americans, including the young and healthy, work to engage in schooling from home when possible, avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people, avoid discretionary travel and avoid eating and drinking in bars, restaurants, and public food courts,” Trump said, according to ABC News. “If everyone makes this change or these critical changes and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus, and we are going to have a big celebration altogether. With several weeks of focused action, we can turn the corner and turn it quickly — a lot of progress has been made.” 

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci said the new guidelines apply to the next 15 days.

The announcement from Trump and his coronavirus task force followed a guideance issued by the CDC March 15 that recommended the cancellation or postponement of all events for more than 50 people for eight weeks to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The guidance is not enforceable by any government agency, but is likely to influence many local governments’ decisions about how to protect their populations as the spread of the disease continues throughout the U.S. 

Schools and businesses are already being greatly disrupted in markets like New York City, and entire states like Oregon have already instituted bans on events of 250. Most recently, the city of San Francisco has announced a citywide lockdown for three weeks starting March 17 at midnight, as reported by the San Francisco Examiner

A ban on gatherings of 50 or more (or 10+) would reach down to the level of bars and clubs, which were still hosting patrons in many parts of the country last week.

In response to the pressures being put on the live entertainment industry, a petition requesting federal aid has begun circulating on Change.org. 

The petition, signed by Isaac Rothwell, Randy Pruitt, Trevor Zulinke, Adam Gogan of Digerati Productions and Omar Colum, AV Educate, reads: “Currently, the live events and business meetings industry is in free fall and headed toward a complete collapse with no end in sight.  There are already strong ripples of this impact to the transportation and hospitality industry (hotels, conference centers, restaurants etc.) that rely on our industry which have received media and governmental attention, but no mention of the larger losses that are reaching into the billions and billions of dollars, and continuing to climb by the minute, in the live events and business meetings industry.”

“For the next 6 months, we are looking at monumental setbacks for all business across the board in professional collaboration and business development.  These setbacks are due to not being able to attend business meetings be it large conventions, tradeshows, trainings product launches and the list goes on.  If the live events and business meetings industry which is the invisible fabric that ties our US business culture together is not able to recover quickly then all industries will be delayed in there recovery efforts as well.  The potential economic losses are almost incalculable at this point.”

The petition requests emergency Medicaid health insurance; $200b in low interest loans, as the initial $50b released by Trump has already proven insufficient; and $100b in employee retention grants.

At press time had nearly reached its goal of 200,000 signatures.

Rothwell told Pollstar since starting the petition numerous individuals have reached out to him to form an ad-hoc advocacy group  for event specialists and contractors. There is still no clear idea in how the funds would be distributed if they were made available to the sector at this moment, but multiple sources have made clear to Pollstar that companies who would normally be competitors need to continue the process of learning to coordinate with each other to navigate the coming months.
Rothwell said one thing that is being lost in the current conversation about the impact of the coronavirus is that not only is the live entertainment industry being impacted, but also the private/corporate events industry, which he says is commonly recognized to be worth $500m annually. 
With so many events still in the process of being rescheduled, Rothwell said when it finally is time to reopen, he is concerned there will be a “crunch” on labor, as many organizers will be looking to put on their events at the same time and it will be physically impossible to meet the demand, especially if some companies/individuals go out of business due to the short-term loss of work.