Is Ticketmaster right to track guests’ COVID status?
- As of Thursday, November 12, there have been 10.7 million coronavirus cases in the United States, with 247,859 reported deaths.
- Monday, November 9, Pfizer and Biontech announced a potential vaccine against coronavirus as “more than 90% effective in preventing the virus” in the study with 43,538 participants.
- After the announcement of a potential vaccine, Ticketmaster stated their plan for future concerts. Customers would be required to either get vaccinated or test for the virus 24 to 72 hours before the concert. They said they “would not store fans’ medical records.”
- According to a study released on Wednesday, restaurants, cafes, gyms, and hotels were “superspreaders” of the virus in the spring.
Among every other industry worldwide affected by COVID-19, concerts, sports, and movie events have been dramatically curtailed. No one can blame Ticketmaster for trying to find a way forward, but in a world of fits and starts (such as the question of how to reopen and reopenings leading to renewed shutdowns), their idea of requiring proof of either vaccination or a negative test isn't a great one.
As it stands, negative tests would be required 24-72 hours before the event. This doesn't account for exposure in the interim between tests and concerts. Given the high rate of concert attendance by those in their teens, 20s, and 30s, and given the fact that at least two of those age groups aren't exactly known for cautious behavior, this is a bad combo. Going into a venue blithely thinking you are virus-free, not to mention equating one's youth with feeling impervious, could easily lead to super-spreader events due to irresponsible actions. There is also currently no mention of artists, staff, vendors, etc., at the venues having the same negative test requirement.
There's also the issue of how exactly this information is provided to Ticketmaster. No matter what Ticketmaster says, it will have access to information other than the users' negative test results. Free health apps are notorious for sharing user info, and subscriber apps can be cost-prohibitive. Regardless, a dramatic increase in users of health apps will result in increased motivation for hackers, putting users' information at further risk. As with most things COVID-related, people should be expected to be responsible for their own risk exposure. If you're concerned, you're not likely to attend anyway. Ticketmaster should stay out of the sensitive info arena.
As a business earning the majority of its revenue from live events where thousands of people gather in close proximity, Ticketmaster is right to track its customers' COVID-19 status. Any organization that encourages hundreds of thousands of people to get together, often contrary to the advice of state agencies, must ensure they are doing so safely. Given what we know about how contagious the disease is and how it spreads through close proximity, Ticketmaster needs to know that the people to which it is selling tickets will not infect others. Advanced checking of COVID-19 status is just another task that concert promoters have to do before attending an event; no different from purchasing the appropriate insurance and making sure venues are safe and secure. Ticketmaster's COVID-19 measures are similar to questionnaires given out by airlines and hotels or the track and trace protocols that some countries have enacted.
Tracking reduces the risk of creating super-spreader events, thus reducing the liability and risk of blowback against the company. This is especially important since many people travel long distances for concerts, increasing the risk of spread. Companies all across the arts and entertainment industry have had to come up with novel changes to their businesses to stay afloat during the pandemic. By tracking customers' COVID-19 status, Ticketmaster is looking after its own bottom line, as well as the greater public health. Ticketmaster checking their customers before attending events is not only the right move to make in our pandemic-ridden world, it is their duty to do so.