Editor’s Note — There are few no-risk activities during the Covid-19 pandemic, but there are ways to mitigate risks. Fully vaccinated people are, of course, at much lower risk of contracting and spreading coronavirus than people who haven’t been vaccinated. CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen advises approaching your activity decisions with that in mind.
(CNN) — As more people get Covid-19 vaccines, you may be wondering whether hearing live music in person again is safe.
Coronavirus can spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes and others breathe in those droplets, and by accumulating in or flowing through air. You can get coronavirus from contaminated surfaces, too, but this isn’t the primary mode of transmission, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
New Orleans-based musical group Tank and The Bangas perform for a masked and physically distanced crowd at The Broadside, an outdoor venue in New Orleans, on March 21.
Erika Goldring/Getty Images
Before you go to a concert
Risk depends on the location of the venue, too. Anything outdoors is much safer than indoor events, said CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
“A larger venue where there is limited capacity is going to be safer than a small space with a lot of people crowded together,” Wen said.
If relevant staff aren’t able to answer questions about these aspects of ventilation, “assume that it’s probably not well ventilated, and then make sure (they) have other mitigation measures,” Wen said. “You definitely want to make sure masks are in place. You ideally would want 10 feet of distancing and not just 6 feet of distancing. And if that’s not able to be done, I wouldn’t go unless you’re vaccinated.”
If you’re traveling long distance
• Get tested for coronavirus one to three days beforehand.
• If traveling on public transportation, wear a mask at all times. If you’re driving, wear a mask during stops for food, gas or restroom breaks.
• Stay at least 6 feet away from others.
• Before and after stops, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer.
• Three to five days after your trip, get tested again. Regardless of your result, self-quarantine for seven days. Self-monitor for Covid-19 symptoms.
• Follow all local recommendations or mandates.
What to plan and expect
At concerts before the pandemic, “a lot of times you’re screaming or you’re singing,” said Regina Davis Moss, the associate executive director of health policy and practice at the American Public Health Association.
But as vocalization gets louder, there would be “increased production” of respiratory droplets and aerosols that could be carrying coronavirus if expelled by an infected person, said Krystal Pollitt, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, and an assistant professor in chemical and environmental engineering at the Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science.
Therefore, keeping your voice “to normal volume, I think, is a reasonable ask,” Pollitt said, “especially depending on the nature of the concerts.” Classical music concerts likely have an expectation for silence among the audience, she added, “but that might not be the case for others” like pop or rock concerts.
“So, normalized speaking volume coupled with masks and physical distancing” at least 6 feet away from others supports a layered infectious disease control approach for minimizing risk of transmission, Pollitt said.
Also, try to avoid using the restroom at high-traffic times such as intermission or after the event, the CDC has advised.