We’re all dreaming of the day when it’s safe to go to concerts again. This week’s announcement that Pfizer developed a COVID-19 vaccine candidate with an over 90% efficacy rate has made the return of live music sometime in 2021 seem like less of a pipe dream. But for mass gatherings to be safe, event organizers have to come up with ways to ensure everyone in attendance is coronavirus-free. Evidently, Ticketmaster is already engineering post-pandemic fan safety, and it’ll likely involve verifying vaccination status on your smartphone.
According to Billboard, the Ticketmaster app will eventually feature plugins from third-party health information companies that let concert organizers check whether attendees have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or if they’ve tested negative for the virus within a 24 to 72 hour window. After buying a ticket for an event, fans will be asked to provide proof of their status. After getting tested or vaccinated for coronavirus, people will need to request that their results be delivered to a “health pass” company like IBM or CLEAR. Ticketmaster will only issue credentials to fans whose health is cleared by these third-party companies; folks who refuse to get vaccinated or test positive for coronavirus will be barred from entry to the event.
None of this complex digital screening technology actually exists yet — first it’d need to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration and vetted to ensure testing data is encrypted in a secure way that complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). But Ticketmaster president Mark Yovich told Billboard he thinks the demand for digital screening services will spur the growth of a new COVID-19 technology sector. In addition to sporting events and concerts, the technology could be used for things like airline travel, employment verification, and theme park entry.
“In order for live events to return, technology and science are going to play huge roles," said Marianne Herman, co-founder and principal of reBUILD20, which is focused on engineering COVID-19 strategies for the entertainment sector. “The experience of attending live events will look completely different, but innovation married with consistent implementation will provide a framework to get the live sports and event industry back to work.”