When the province announced that they were dropping the age limit to 40 years old for doses of the AstraZenica COVID-19 vaccine a couple of Sundays ago, I spent the next few hours trying to secure doses for myself and my wife. I was able to secure appointments a week away but decided the next morning to try the “old-school” approach and called my local pharmacy directly and secured an appointment for the next morning. I promptly cancelled my other appointment letting someone else take that place instead. Why was I so eager to get my vaccine dose? Because not until we all are able to get vaccinated will we see any sort of return of the Live Entertainment industry.
Vaccine hesitancy is real. There are so many different sources of information out there that we must decipher what is fact and was is fiction to properly inform ourselves. All three vaccines available in Canada right now (soon the 4th by Janssen will be available as well) are proven to be effective in preventing death and hospitalization. That is why I took the first one available to me, and why whenever you are eligible, should take the first available one to you. We have all worked hard to adhere to public health measures over the past 13 months and now we must do this too. We need to get vaccinated as soon as possible for the sake of our industry. Wondering where and when you can get vaccinated? You are not the only one as information on who is eligible and where you can sign up is a chaotic mess right now. If you live in and around the city of Toronto, you can get information through their website or if you are on social media, you can follow Vaccine Hunters Canada (@VaxHuntersCan).
We can see from the news that New Zealand is now welcoming back live concerts and Australia has live theatre back up and running once again. How did they do this? Strict Health and safety regulations. 50,000 people doesn’t seem possible? New York City has started to open live events to smaller audiences with great results. It will be possible here soon too, maybe as early as late summer into the fall, but in Ontario, our government has refused constantly to listen to public health officials and enact proper guidelines in this province. This has allowed for a now third wave of this pandemic to overcome the city and delay any reopening of the live sector even further down the road. To avoid a 4th wave, vaccination rates will be key.
Vaccines will also be key to instill confidence in many people to gather in large groups again as well. We can see that globally there is an intense desire for these types of events, I think that once Toronto opens up we will see a huge surge in events and attendance, but the audiences will need to feel safe stepping foot out in crowds again that’s where those shots in arms will matter the most.
We in organized labour talk about being “stronger together” and that united we thrive and divided we fail. The same can be said about getting through this pandemic. When we work together, by each and everyone of us getting vaccinated at the first moment we are eligible, we will get restart to live entertainment sector together. To quote the musical Hamilton “I am not throwing away my shot”, and neither should you.