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Ticketmaster planning to use app to verify COVID status, in hopes of return to full capacity shows in 2021

By | Published on Thursday 12 November 2020


Following news that a COVID-19 vaccine may be imminent, Live Nation’s Ticketmaster has published plans for how it will help to enable the return of full capacity concerts in 2021. The company says it will use its smartphone app to verify that ticketholders have been vaccinated, or have had a recent negative COVID test, before being allowed into shows.

The plans are still in development, according to Billboard. However, the company is apparently working with third party public health data services and vaccine providers to design a verification process. Ticketholders would be required to confirm that they have had a vaccination within twelve months of the show date after purchasing tickets. Those who are not vaccinated will have to have a verified negative test within 72 and 24 hours of showtime.

“We’re already seeing many third-party health care providers prepare to handle the vetting – whether that is getting a vaccine, taking a test, or other methods of review and approval – which could then be linked via a digital ticket so everyone entering the event is verified”, Ticketmaster President Mark Yovich tells Billboard.

“Ticketmaster’s goal is to provide enough flexibility and options that venues and fans have multiple paths to return to events”, he goes on. “[We are] working to create integrations to our API and leading digital ticketing technology as we will look to tap into the top solutions based on what’s green-lit by officials and desired by clients”.

These plans are not dissimilar to those put forward by Melvin Benn – head of fellow Live Nation-owned company Festival Republic – earlier this year. Announced and promptly withdrawn in June, Benn’s ‘Full Capacity Plan’ proposed a return to (relatively) normal activity for live music by this month – something that we now know would have been scuppered by the second lockdown anyway.

There are issues with plans of this kind, of course. When it was first published, Benn’s proposal was criticised for envisioning a two-tier society, where people are denied access to services due to their health status – or by simply being unable to gain timely access to testing or vaccines.

That said, such a system may prove to be a necessary evil in order to re-open live entertainment and other related industries. It will also, of course, require government approval to override social distancing or lockdown rules. Benn’s plans were seemingly put on hold as the UK government’s policies towards testing, track and trace, and social distancing kept shifting around.

Even if governments come on board with the newer plans, there are still plenty of uncertainties. While some are placing their hopes on technological solutions of this kind helping speed up a return to something more like a pre-COVID life, technology has not so far proven to be the golden solution many predicted early on in the pandemic. It remains to be seen if Ticketmaster’s proposals can be put into the practice both effectively and ethically.