COLUMBUS (WCMH) – As the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic goes on, Columbus has instituted an indoor mask mandate, but video from a concert inside Nationwide Arena Saturday night shows a mostly maskless crowd.
Columbus Public Health said that since Sept. 14, when the mandate was approved by Columbus City Council, it has received more than 150 complaints. As of Monday afternoon, however, there have been no complaints made about Nationwide Arena and the Eric Church concert Saturday.
Video shared with NBC4 of Church signing autographs inside the area shows a mostly maskless crowd looking on. More video as the singer shakes fans’ hands shows a lot of people with their phones out, but not a lot of people wearing masks.
A picture of the crowd also shows few masks being worn. The viewer who shared the video said they saw very little mask-wearing and many even taking their masks off as soon as they walked into the arena.
Saturday’s show was the first concert at Nationwide Arena in nearly 600 days. Just last week, Nationwide Arena management announced rules for events, including masks being required for all guests ages 3 and older. The arena’s website explains the rules as well.
Columbus Arena Sports and Entertainment, which operates the arena, did not address the question specifically about Saturday’s concert but said in a statement: “We follow all local mask mandate guidelines. Public messaging will be increased inside and outside the venue.”
The statement goes on to say, “We continue to educate the public on the safety and health guidelines in advance of and during the event.”
With a rise in COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant, doctors across the region and the country have stressed the importance of wearing masks indoors in public places.
Enforcement of Columbus’ mask mandate comes from complaints reported to 3-1-1, which go to Columbus Public Health. Noting some duplicates, the health department said it’s received 179 complaints since Sept. 10, but none of them regarding Saturday’s Eric Church concert.
“As of an hour, hour and a half ago, we still had not received a complaint about Nationwide Arena in our system,” said Luke Jacobs, environmental health division administrator with Columbus Public Health. “Again, we’re only able to do what we get complaints about.”
Columbus Public Health said it can only issue formal warnings and fines if they see the violations in person.