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Counting Crows and checking cards: Saturday concert first to require proof of vaccination or negative test at Pavilion

UPDATED: Tue., Aug. 31, 2021

If you’re planning on going to a concert this fall, you might want to keep that vaccination card handy.

Saturday night’s Counting Crows concert at the Pavilion in Riverfront Park marked the first time proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test conducted within 72 hours of the event was required to get into the venue.

For concertgoers, it was a taste of what the process might look like as more venues across the nation adopt vaccination policies with COVID cases surging.

“My brother’s an ER trauma surgeon,” said Vernon Wall, who was visiting Spokane from Washington, D.C. “He says we need to start learning to live with COVID, because it’s just not going away anytime soon.”

For Wall, Saturday’s concert was the perfect example of doing just that: being able to go to a live event with a big crowd while still feeling like he’s somewhat safe due to the vaccine or negative test requirement.

The process was fairly straightforward. Security guards checked vaccination cards or proof of negative test with IDs, while concertgoers waited in line to get through the metal detectors. The guards gave them a wristband if everything was in order.

According to a security guard, only a few unvaccinated people showed up with the negative test result option, and even fewer came without any of the necessary documents. Those people without documents were denied entry but were offered full refunds.

Once inside, perhaps because of the outdoor setting and COVID-19 requirements, most concertgoers chose not to wear masks during the concert.

“I just feel so much safer,” said Kathleen Cubley, a Spokane resident at the concert with her wife, who is a pharmacist. “We were considering not going before the vaccine requirement.”

Cubley said ticket-holders were emailed a couple of weeks before the concert about the COVID-19 safety requirements.

One group of concertgoers said their seats were moved up a few rows after the email, and suspected they got the seats of those who took a refund because of the requirements.

Saturday night also made clear that big live music concerts are still trying to find their legs during the pandemic. The crowd seemed to fill less than half the 5,000-person capacity of the Pavilion.

But even the smaller crowd produced an energy unfamiliar to many for the past 18 months, including Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz.

“It’s great to see you,” said Duritz addressing the crowd. “It’s a euphoric feeling. … I like my friends, but I don’t need them as much as these gigs.”

AEG Presents, the company that schedules and puts on events at the Pavilion, implemented the policy to require proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test at all their events in mid-August, according to their website.

Seán Barna, a musician who opened for the Counting Crows, said he was glad the decision was made to keep everybody safe Saturday night.

COVID-19 safety requirements at the Pavilion will only get more stringent, and those who relied on a negative COVID-19 test this time won’t be able to do so for long.

Starting Oct. 1, all concertgoers at the Pavilion will be required to show proof that they are fully vaccinated even if they present a negative COVID-19 test, according to the AEG Presents website.

Indoor venues including the Spokane Arena, Spokane Convention Center, The Big Dipper and the Knitting Factory did not require vaccinations or negative COVID-19 tests as of Saturday, according to their websites. They do require masks, consistent with Gov. Jay Inslee’s universal indoor mask mandate regardless of vaccination status, which went into effect last week.

The Lucky You Lounge will be requiring a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination for their concerts, as well as mask-wearing when not eating or drinking.

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