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Despite safety measures reportedly put into place for the show at TempleLive in Fort Smith, Ark., in which the venue space had plans for reducing its capacity from 1,100 down to 229 people, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is stepping in to put a stop to the event altogether, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a press conference on Wednesday.
“You can’t just arbitrarily determine when the restrictions are lifted,” Hutchinson said.
“That is something that is done based on a public health requirement,” he added of the scheduled “intimate solo acoustic performance.”
In a cease-and-desist order signed by Arkansas Secretary of Health Nathaniel Smith, and obtained by Fox News on Wednesday, the Arkansas Department of Health rebuffed the venue’s attempt to move forward with the show and argued that the venue was notified it was not compliant with regulations well in advance of the proposed date in question.
“On May 5 and 6, 2020, ADH staff notified you that the planned indoor venue at TempleLive on May 15, 2020, with 229 persons in attendance was not compliant with Health Directives,” the order reads. “On May 7, 2020, ADH staff notified you by phone through counsel, that you should postpone your event as it did not comply with the Health Directive.”
The order continues: “On May 11, 2020, I personally advised you by phone through counsel that you should postpone your event, and as of today’s date, it is my understanding that you intend to violate the orders of the Governor and the Health Directive by holding your event on May 15.”
During the press conference earlier Wednesday, Hutchinson had maintained that the health department would issue a “cease-and-desist” for the show based on directives by the health department that mandated venues be closed until May 18 — at the earliest — and that they limited their audiences to no more than 50 people and maintain specific social-distancing guidelines.
McCready’s performance would have fallen just three days before the restrictions were to be lifted.
Much of Hutchinson’s reluctance to allow the event to take place appears to mostly be centered on the fact that the plan apparently wasn’t approved by the state beforehand.
“It’s out of time,” Hutchinson said. “Can you imagine what reaction we would have had across Arkansas if we set the date for May 11 to open up restaurants but a bunch of them just decided to do that on May 5?”
The cease-and-desist order from the health department is “directing that that concert not take place,” Hutchinson added.
“By no means is anyone involved in this wanting to promote anything done negligently,” McCready, the former singer of the blues-rock band Bishop Gunn, told Rolling Stone last week. “I’d rather promote something where it can happen in the safest way possible for now.”
The concert venue, TempleLive had prearranged plans to sanitize the venue space utilizing fog sprayers, according to the concert’s Ticketmaster page, and would require all attendees and employees to don face masks and submit to routine temperature checks.
The venue said in a statement to Rolling Stone on Monday that the precautions they were taking had garnered interest from other live event venues and many would likely be paying close attention to see how things played out.
“The COVID-19 precautions and practices established by TempleLive have accumulated interest from other entertainment establishments and are being adopted and implemented worldwide,” the statement reads.
“We believe that the ‘Fan-Pod’ seating model, along with other innovative safety protocols that have been adopted by TempleLive, create a safe and comfortable environment, and are the next logical steps in bringing live entertainment back to the stage.”
Reps for McCready did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.