With cases of COVID-19 rising in New Brunswick, there has been public concern that the Harvest Jazz and Blues music Festival did not take enough precautions to avoid community transmission.
The festival, which was held September 14-19, required proof of vaccination for admission into events at the Blues Tent and the Playhouse. They encouraged those attending to wear masks, but did not require them. This followed the provincial public health guidelines at the time.
“Nobody was social-distancing but I think most people felt like they did. We’re all double vaccinated, and we are in green. This is allowed, we’re not breaking any rules, so we were okay with being there,” said Trudy MacNeil, who attended an event in the Blues Tent.
“They did have to turn people away from the tent, like you know at the doors, and that made me feel more comfortable too because they really were taking that very seriously,” said Emma Cheverie, who approved of the festival’s decision to require proof of vaccination to attend certain events.
“The organization came forward with a real plan, a strong plan, and they stuck to it, and they made us all feel as comfortable as they could, in these very uncertain times,” said Cheverie. “It felt nice to be out enjoying the music experience with the community again.”
Jeanne Sayre, another attendee of the festival, would have liked to have seen more people wearing masks at the events.
“There weren’t as many masked people as I would have liked,” said Sayre. “When you’re just walking through downtown, there were open free events, there was no restrictions on having to be double vaccinated to attend those, and that’s where I really was surprised at how few masks were on.”
Another attendee, Chelsey Lapointe, shared a concern for the lack of masks downtown.
“Within the hundreds of people we saw walking up and down downtown, my partner and I were the only ones wearing a mask and we met an older couple that had a mask on and that was pretty much it,” Lapointe said.
As of now, there have not been any cases of COVID-19 linked to the Harvest Music Festival.
“Where the numbers already started climbing before Harvest even began, to me, I don’t sort of correlate the two. I think it’s unfortunate that it all happened at the same time,” said Cheverie.
“It’s a balance. We can’t shut everything down, in my opinion,” said MacNeil, who pointed out that the Harvest Festival offered a great opportunity for the hospitality industry. “We don’t want people laid off. We don’t want people at home without work. We also don’t want people sick and in hospital, but I think we need to find the right level of balance for that.”