Since September, Old Rock House (1200 South Seventh Street, 314-588-0505)
has been hosting reduced-capacity, socially distanced shows, designed to be safe in an era of COVID-19. The "Listening Room" series was the venue's first slate of shows since its stage went dark for six months when the coronavirus first came to the area.
Now, as cases and hospitalizations due to the virus rise to the highest point yet seen in the St. Louis region, that stage will go dark again.
“We have made the difficult decision to postpone the remainder of our 2020 concert schedule. Considering the dramatic rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths, this might not seem like a difficult decision but it is," Old Rock House co-owner Tim Weber writes in a statement posted to social media
. "It’s difficult because we believe that music is life. It’s difficult because we believe that people are meant to gather together. It’s difficult because we have so much love for the fans, the bands and the staff that make this place go. It’s difficult because it’s 2020 and everything is difficult.
"That said, it’s also the right decision," he adds. "We will see you in 2021.”
The postponement means that scheduled performances by Lusid (November 27), Alligator Wine (December 4) and Rhoda G. (December 18) will not go on as planned. Though the venue says these shows are postponed rather than cancelled outright, no new dates have been announced.
Old Rock House was one of the first full-time venues in St. Louis to resume shows since the pandemic forced them all to close back in March. The venue's COVID-19 safety measures upon reopening were extensive, including mandatory masks for guests and patrons, a limit of only 50 guests in the building (ten percent of Old Rock House's capacity), tables spaced six feet apart, temperature checks at the doorway and increased sanitization efforts.
And though, according to Weber, those efforts were effective, the current rate of infection in the St. Louis area has given the venue owner pause.
"The concerts we have hosted the last few months have been incredibly safe (zero incidents of anyone getting sick)," Weber writes. "The staff has been amazing, the bands and fans have been supportive and understanding — and that simply might not be enough anymore. Our promise to everyone who gathers here is that we will keep you safe, and we are not certain we can keep that promise under the current conditions."
Hospitalization numbers in the state continue to break records day after day, with Monday's data
seeing 2,805 hospitalized Missouri COVID-19 patients (twice the number reported only six weeks ago) and a seven-day average of 2,676 patients, a record high. And 647 of those patients are in intensive care units, a concerning increase from 504 on November 1.
The startling and ongoing uptick in these numbers has led worried health-care professionals to beg the governor to enact a statewide mask mandate
before the hospitals become overwhelmed, but Parson has so far stubbornly refused to even consider such a measure
Preposterously, that puts the health and safety of Missouri residents in the hands of responsible local businesses, like the Old Rock House (and, last week, the Fox Theatre), to do what's right and postpone their entire calendars in an attempt to slow the virus — despite the fact our gridlocked federal government's inability to pass a second stimulus package means such responsibility could put those venues' ability to financially survive in jeopardy.
"Our hope is that you will understand and respect this decision," Weber writes. "Our hope is that you will take the money you were going to spend here and instead spend it at a local restaurant. Our hope is that you will take the time you were going to spend here and instead spend it supporting our healthcare workers who are sacrificing so much."
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