LAFAYETTE, La. — With Gov. John Bel Edwards’ announcement that the state is moving into Phase 3 comes a few sighs of relief for live musicians. For at least 28 days, bars will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity and indoor gatherings in event halls will allow up to 250 people or 50 percent capacity. With the changes, some local artists are getting their instruments tuned up for what’s to come.
Dustin Gaspard, like many other entertainers in Acadiana, has had to put his creative life on pause due to the pandemic.
“I had a whole tour planned for last summer; it all kind of got nixed,” he said.
Here’s an overview of the rules that live music events and artists must follow:
- There has to be distance between band members and the audience
- Performers must not have COVID-19 symptoms, a COVID positive test or exposure to someone who is COVID positive within two weeks
- Musicians who aren’t playing a wind instrument or singing must wear a mask
- No patron singing (like karaoke) is permitted
- No dancing is permitted
- There are specific requirements for the HVAC systems, and if those can’t be met there are stricter requirements, including masks for singers and plexiglass between performers and patrons,
- There are requirements for performance area set-ups
- Performers have to wear masks when they’re not performing and they can’t share music, instruments, water bottles, drinks or microphones
- Signs must be hung relaying the increased risk of contracting the virus in these cases.
The pandemic also impacted Gaspard's band, DG & the Freetown Sound.
“Everybody that is in my band, beside myself, they’re all professional musicians. This was very detrimental to their career,” he said. “They had to get regular daytime jobs again because everything that happened during the pandemic, which not only set them back, but it’s a hard mental thing to overcome.”
Gaspard has performed at restaurants during the pandemic, but those events are few and far between. Plus, he says it’s not the same to play background music after being used to performing for crowds at venues.
Nonetheless, he says there’s hope.
“I see a light at the end of the tunnel, I think we all do,” said Gaspard. “We’ve been back and forth through the phases; I think this vaccine has given us a bit of hope and relief.”
He’s getting ready for a performance this weekend at the Grouse Room in Downtown Lafayette, and to say he’s excited is an understatement.
“Oh, I’m going to play as long as I can possible. As long as they’re open,” he said. “If they open up their doors at seven and close at two, we will play straight through the night, and make sure that it is the most memorable celebration and good time that you’ll ever have.”
More on Phase 3 guidelines can be found at opensafely.gov.
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