Event ticketing giant Ticketmaster may soon require concertgoers to show proof they’ve been vaccinated or tested negative for Covid-19 using an intrusive health app to verify negative virus status, industry sources say.
The concert producer, which tickets the majority of music and sporting events in the US, plans to require attendees to supply proof of their Covid-19-negative status or proof of vaccination if they want to attend large in-person shows once music arenas and other high-capacity venues reopen, industry outlet Billboard reported on Wednesday.
Ticketmaster is said to be working on “a framework for post-pandemic fan safety that uses smartphones to very fans’ vaccination status or whether they’ve tested negative for the coronavirus within a 24 to 72 hour window,” the outlet stated, suggesting an Orwellian hybrid of Chinese-style social credit scores and the sort of digital “vaccine certificates” billionaire Microsoft founder Bill Gates hinted at in the early days of the pandemic.
The procedure is expected to combine three elements – the use of a Ticketmaster digital ticketing app, one of a burgeoning crop of third-party health certification apps like CLEAR Health Pass, and being tested at or vaccinated by one of the many rapid testing sites springing up all over the US and Western Europe.
Wannabe concertgoers would have to either prove they’d gotten the jab or show proof they’d tested negative for Covid-19 within one to three days of the show, depending on the type of test. The individual would have their results sent to the certification app, which would pass their green (or red) signal on to Ticketmaster. At that point, they’d be allowed into the event. The app will also facilitate contact-tracing and provide concertgoers with staggered arrival times to avoid excessive crowds at the entrance.
The complicated scheme is an attempt to avoid the burden of testing concertgoers onsite – and the trouble that would inevitably ensue if a large number of eager showgoers were turned away at the door. Ticketmaster stressed it is not seeking access to music fans’ medical records, suggesting the use of third-party certification apps is to maximize individuals’ data privacy. However, as Billboard mentioned, “different states will have different requirements,” and no apps have as yet been certified by the Food and Drug Administration to deliver vaccine or Covid-19 testing results in real time. Convenience-minded frequent concertgoers will likely plead for the option to keep their vaccine status filed away for future shows, and it’s not clear who will foot the bill if the holder of a purchased ticket is kept from the show over a false positive test result – or if they can’t find a clinic ahead of the gig.
Ticketmaster president Mark Yovich was nevertheless optimistic about the novel coronavirus’ future as a profit generator, noting that app developers and testing sites were climbing on board in droves. “We’re already seeing many third-party health care providers prepare to handle the vetting, whether that is getting a vaccine, taking a test, or other methods of review and approval, which could then be linked via a digital ticket so everyone entering the event is verified,” he told Billboard.
The Covid-19 restrictions are intended to work in conjunction with efforts to clamp down on unauthorized ticket sales and enable closer tracking of concertgoers’ identity. The “SmartEvent” system now being sold as a tool to facilitate social distancing and contact tracing was initially designed as a security measure to discourage scalpers.
As Yovich suggested, plenty of opportunists are stepping up to the plate to ‘help’ Ticketmaster evolve and adapt to the brave new world of Covid-19. “The experience of attending live events will look completely different,” acknowledged Marianne Herman, co-founder of reBUILD20, a consultancy aimed at helping events and entertainment venues reorient their activities to the “new normal” of the virus. “Innovation married with consistent implementation will provide a framework to get the live sports and event industry back to work.”
However, both US coronavirus czar Anthony Fauci and billionaire vaccine evangelist Bill Gates have hinted that vaccination “certificates” may eventually be mandatory for Americans who seek to travel, work, or even leave their homes, suggesting one man’s consistent implementation is another man’s police state.
Billboard’s report – which intimated that live music would begin returning in full force in 2021 – came on the heels of an optimistic announcement earlier this week from drug company Pfizer that its Covid-19 vaccine had shown a surprisingly high 90 percent effectiveness against the novel coronavirus. The news sent Ticketmaster and other live music-related stocks through the roof.
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