The performing arts community has plenty to be concerned about with the pandemic now raging across with globe, with major festivals like SXSW and Coachella either canceling or postponing their 2020 events. And while there is only one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Pima County, there remains a lot of uncertainty because there are so few test kits that at this point that testing has been extremely limited here and across the country.
Already, this weekend's Tucson Festival of Books has been canceled (although that was more about the reluctance of authors to travel than concern about being in danger of catching COVID-19 at the University of Arizona). Other major events are on the horizon, including the Fourth Avenue Street Fair, the Tucson Folk Festival and the Pima County Fair. As of this morning, all those events are moving forward.
The show is going on at downtown's Rialto Theatre and 191 Toole, according to an email from Rialto Theatre Foundation Executive Director Curtis McCrary, who says that staff is taking additional steps to sanitize surfaces, wash their hands and stay home if they are sick. Likewise, the Rialto asks patrons to stay home if they are not feeling well or have recently traveled to an overseas COVID-19 hot spot.
Here's the letter from McCrary:
Dear Rialto and 191 Toole patrons, ticket buyers, and the Tucson community at large:
We wanted to let you know that we are very closely monitoring the rapidly developing situation with the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic, as it has officially been deemed as of today.
Although there are very few known cases in Arizona, and only one to date in Pima County, we understand the importance of doing everything possible to mitigate its spread. To that end, we are following CDC guidelines, any governmental guidance or strictures be they local, state, or federal, and we are in close communication with touring artist management as we collectively assess the situation as it unfolds.
We also have instructed our staff that it is of paramount importance they stay home if they are feeling even the slightest hint of sickness, and we will take any recommended measures, such as working from home or other social distancing, should they become necessary. In addition, we have issued extensive instruction to staff regarding hand-washing and sanitation practices that reflect the seriousness with which we take this matter, and will continue to do so on an ongoing basis.
It is our understanding that the spread of the COVID-19 virus comes most readily from surface contact transmission, so we’re taking every precaution possible regarding handwashing, use of hand sanitizer, and disinfection in bathrooms, bars and elsewhere.
For now, as shows and events on our calendar are still going on, we advise anyone planning to attend a show to consider carefully the potential risks, and follow best practices according to the CDC:
· Please stay home if you or someone in your household is in any way sick
· If you or anyone in your household has traveled to any of the countries identified by the CDC as having sustained transmission of COVID-19, please refrain from coming to our venues for the time being
· Please wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, according to the advice given by the CDC and the many news organizations and journalists who have reported on this aspect of COVID-19 spread
Although we think the current risk of transmission and spread of COVID-19 at shows and events at the Rialto and 191 Toole is very low, we fully recognize that that could change at a moment’s notice, and we will keep the public updated about any changes in our approach, or event postponements or cancellations.
Executive Director, The Rialto Theatre Foundation