Health expert predicts concerts, sporting events won’t return until ‘fall 2021 at the earliest’

Concerts, sporting events and other large-scale public gatherings won’t be safe to return to until late 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, one health expert recently predicted.

Zeke Emanuel, a bioethicist and director of the Healthcare Transformation Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, participated in a panel interview with New York Times Magazine on reopening the economy.

“Restarting the economy has to be done in stages, and it does have to start with more physical distancing at a work site that allows people who are at lower risk to come back,” Emanuel said, adding that certain kinds of construction, manufacturing and office jobs where you can keep 6-foot distances would be more reasonable to start sooner.

“Larger gatherings — conferences, concerts, sporting events — when people say they’re going to reschedule this conference or graduation event for October 2020, I have no idea how they think that’s a plausible possibility. I think those things will be the last to return,” Emanuel said.

“Realistically, we’re talking fall 2021 at the earliest.”

Miriam Nervo and Olivia Nervo from Nervo perform during the 2019 Life Is Beautiful Festival on Sept. 22, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic for Life is Beautiful Music & Art Festival )

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Conducted by video conference, the panel consisted of five different kinds of experts to discuss how society can begin to resume “the usual rhythms of American life” following the closure of businesses and stay-at-home orders across the country.

Emanuel said he originally had a goal of seeing the U.S. partly reopen by June, but was no longer “optimistic” on seeing that happen without a consistent shelter-in-place policy across the country.

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He added that restaurants could potentially open sooner across the board, due to the ability of spacing tables.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti also said this week that he doesn't foresee large gatherings happening in the city until 2021.

"I think we all have never wanted science to work so quickly, but until there's either a vaccine, some sort of pharmaceutical intervention or herd immunity, the science is the science," Garcetti told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "Public health officials have been very clear: We've got many miles to walk before we're going to be back in those environments."

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With mass gatherings and events canceled around the world, musicians have adapted and found new ways to share their music.

Bands like Blink-182 and OneRepublic have released quarantine-themed music videos, while artists like John Legend, Keith Urban and Coldplay’s Chris Martin have livestreamed concerts on social media.

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This story was reported from Cincinnati.