Some performance venues close as omicron spreads

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – As the rise of omicron continues, venues across the country, including here in New England, are canceling shows and closing again as they did at the start of the pandemic.

Chad Hollister, a guitarist, singer-songwriter and drummer based in Vermont, said that due to the current rise of omicron, he is not doing any live gigs.

“The site closures have really affected a lot of my community. It just upset us,” Hollister said. “Step back for health reasons but also just to preserve yourself.”

Instead, Hollister created custom songs for various businesses and nonprofits. It’s a change that he says works well for him.

“It’s a good way to keep playing music but stay away from the public,” he said.

But Hollister says some of his colleagues who aren’t yet ready to leave the live music scene are struggling to book gigs, as New England venues begin to cancel shows and close again for the second times during the pandemic.

“Just financial devastation. People who, like me, don’t make the trip to get out of the club and still want to travel and still want to tour and sell records and so on, that takes away a job,” Hollister said.

Currently, the state of Vermont does not enforce the closure of performance venues. But Commerce and Community Development Secretary Lindsay Kurrle says they are offering recommendations, such as requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.

“We are seeing some businesses in the state that have already implemented this and they are sharing that it is going well and it provides a safer environment for their customers but peace of mind for their employees which is also an important element at this stage. time,” Kurrle said.

Kurrle says the state hopes to continue to refrain from imposing restrictions that limit the operation of local event venues, as well as the freedom of those wishing to attend performances.

“People who feel comfortable in this environment will generally choose to go there. And for people who aren’t comfortable, they’re probably going to abstain for now,” Kurrle said. “Vermonters, again, have learned so much and are weighing their own risk and willingness to go into these environments.”

The New England Musicians Relief Fund (NEMRF) is stepping up its efforts to help professional musicians in financial difficulty.

“Ticket sales are at a standstill, shows are canceled and professional musicians who depend on this time of year to earn the bulk of their income feel like once again the carpet has been swept away. shot under them,” said Gabriel Langfur Rice, trombonist and president of the New England Musicians Relief Fund. “Medical bills, rent, childcare, studio time and bills that have been deferred during the pandemic are adding up to a financial crisis for too many of our colleagues.”

The NEMRF is now accepting applications from musicians who lose their jobs.

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