Arkansas will have to wait for its first rock concert as the state’s governor has issued a cease-and-desist order to the venue planning to stage the event.
As previously reported, Bishop Gunn singer/guitarist Travis McCready was set to play a limited-capacity concert at TempleLive in Forth Smith, Arkansas on Friday, May 22nd. It was to mark the first such live event to take place in the country since COVID-19 effectively shuttered the live music industry.
In order to adhere to social distancing guidelines, TempleLive had shed its capacity by 80%. Of the 229 seats available, tickets were sold in groups of two to 12. Additionally, all attendees would have had their temperature taken before entering the venue, and were required to wear face masks. The venue also planned to sell pre-packaged concessions, and promised to actively sanitize the site with fog sprayers and disinfectant.
However, that plan wasn’t good enough for Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R), who hit the venue with a cease-and-desist order on Monday, May 11th. Hutchinson’s main point of contention seems to be over the timing of the event, as it was to take place three days prior to the date (May 18th) in which the governor previously said that venues could reopen. Additionally, under the governor’s directives, group gatherings must be under 50 people.
“That concert does not have our approval. It would happen three days before the authorized date, as well as a few other problems.” Hutchinson told reporters at a news conference (via 40/29 News). “We’ve looked at their plan, and the plan is insufficient as well.”
If TempleLive choses to defy Hutchinson’s orders and goes ahead with the concert as planned, the state liquor board could pull the venue’s license for future events.
A representative for TempleLive called the governor’s decision “really disappointing” and said it was evaluating its options.
For now, it seems like drive-in concerts will be the closest thing we get to live music for the foreseeable future.