Tampa music fans, and those crazy enough to fly back home over the Thanksgiving holiday, have some new “Safe & Sound” live music options this weekend thanks to seven venues that have banded together and committed to keeping concertgoers safe.
The establishments, listed below (and updating as more venues join “Safe & Sound) are spread across Tampa neighborhoods like Sulphur Springs, Seminole and Tampa Heights, downtown, the West River District and Ybor City, but their message is the same: You’re safer here.
- Crowbar 1812 N. 17th St., Ybor City crowbarybor.com
- Ella’s Americana Folk Art Café 5119 N. Nebraska Ave., Tampa ellasfolkartcafe.com
- Hooch & Hive 1001 W. Cass St., Tampa hoochandhive.com
- The Hub 719 N. Franklin St., Tampa "The Hub-Tampa, FL" Facebook group
- Independent Bar & Café 5016 N. Florida Ave., Tampa independentbartampa.com
- New World Brewery 810 E. Skagway Ave., Tampa newworldtampa. com
- Shuffle 2612 N. Tampa St. shuffletampa.com
The venues back that up that by continuing to seat and ticket at limited capacities while also strictly enforcing mask usage and social distancing. That’s all despite Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ September move to phase three of reopening, which rolled back almost every measure the state enacted to combat the spread of the coronavirus. DeSantis’ executive order did not address fines incurred by businesses, but it did suspend fees and penalties for individuals who violate COVID-19 restrictions, effectively removing local enforcement mechanisms that require masks when inside public areas.
“I begged the city for months for a similar program. We wanna try to keep it positive but the leadership from our elected officials has been pathetic locally, statewide, nationally,” Tom DeGeorge, owner and co-founder of Crowbar said in a release.
Bars and music venues were the first to close when the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing lockdowns took hold all the way back in March. Since the spring, DeGeorge has warned that venues like his would wither away without federal assistance. Over the summer, the National Independent Venue Association, a group formed to lobby D.C. legislators that’ll hopefully pass a bill providing help to music venues, named DeGeorge its Florida captain.
DeGeorge admits that because of the COVID-19 numbers—and being personally affected by coronavirus—it’s still hard for him to let people into his business, even with the strict protocols.
“Even if it looks like 50 people, I see dead people,” he recently told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. “I think of kids in school. I think of the nursing homes, and the prisons and all of our healthcare workers. Throwing these last eight months out the window by reopening irresponsibly. I’m sorry if this pisses you off, but the irresponsibility breaks my heart.”
But Crowbar staffers need to feed their families, and DeGeorge wants people who feel a need to see a concert to have a safe option.
“Especially over the holiday, we want to create the feeling of safety and back it up with our practices. We need solid business owners who’re doing reopening the right way to speak up because our elected officials have not,” DeGeorge added. “This group is trying to make some sense out of what is going on.”
Others can join, too. DeGeorge wouldn’t throw businesses that would not—or could not—join “Safe & Sound” under the bus, but he wants more venues committed to reopening and presenting live music safely to join the coalition.
“Together we can make a difference, a greater impact,” he said. “We have to say, ‘We want to help other businesses do better. We’re going to get through this,’ and if we don’t, this is not going to get better, more people are going to die.”
Tampa Bay venues and promoters need you to bug Marco Rubio about saving the live music scene.
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