So there was a little hubbub this weekend here locally. The historic Cuban Club was rented out on Saturday for a small concert by the artist known as Moneybagg Yo. The Tampa Bay Times did an article on the concert and the apparent lack of masks being worn by the attendees disturbed the reporters.
In an email from Patrick Manteiga, president of the Cuban Club Foundation, he stated that per the State of Florida Covid-19 Phase 2 Executive Order, rental of the building is allowed as long as it operates at 50% of building capacity with appropriate social distancing between groups and appropriate sanitation. The only part of the club that was rented out was the outside patio. There are no requirements about wearing masks outside in the city of Tampa, only inside businesses. The CDC recommends wearing a mask whenever it is not possible to stay 6 feet apart, even outside. The capacity is 2370, which means they could have had up to 1,100 people attending the event. The promoter of the event agreed to limit ticket sales to 500 attendees, all of which were sold. The Cuban club sold no alcohol, only soda and water. The City of Tampa stated that they did not need a permit for the event. Mr Manteiga also stated that anyone who came onto the premises had their temperatures checked and were required to wear a mask. Anyone who didn’t have a mask was given one. The gates opened at 6:30 with only about 100 people entering until 8:15. More people started to show up at that time but at its peak the event never exceeded 400 people, which is about 17% of the patios capacity. The first acts came on at 9:10 p.m. and so did the rain, with significant downpours around 9:30. By 9:45 attendees were drenched along with their masks. By 10:18 the concert was over and the attendees departed.
To me it seems like a little bit of sensational reporting, but this was one of the first live shows to be put on since March when the shutdown started. The question that should be asked is “Why aren’t there more shows being put on?” The agreement that the Cuban Club and the promoter made seemed to be all done with caution being priority one. There’s a bunch of bars and other places that would love to have live events again and why shouldn’t they? If they opened at 25% capacity and adhered to the guidelines and requirements, I think that they should. If Applebee’s can sell liquor, so should they. Most of those types of places are sole proprietor and non chain type establishments that could re-hire some of their staff back. Musicians could be getting paid again, and most importantly, we could get a small piece of our humanity back. Life without live music just seems so empty.
Alcohol sales got banned because there were places breaking the rules. Punish them, not the entire industry. It was a knee jerk reaction that should be reversed. If schools and Disney World are open, why aren’t these small businesses? The Cuban Club is a historic building that survives on building rentals. Without them, this irreplaceable piece of Tampa history could close and be lost forever. That’s just one example in this city. Think of how many other places are in the same position statewide, hell, even nationwide.
It’s time to let them open back up and do so cautiously. Let the crowds trickle back in and refuse to bend to the temptation of making up for lost time by letting everyone in. It’s time to test the waters again and let servers and musicians get their gigs back. Slowly, deliberately, methodically, and safely. We’re adults, let’s act like it and not ruin these folks’ livelihoods. They need our support to feed their families. Let’s do it already.