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Will live music return in SLO county?

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Front of SLO Brew Rock venue hall. Photo by Lauren Grasmick

Since COVID-19 shut down music venues around the Central Coast in March of this year, live music has made its return.

The San Luis Obispo Emergency Information categorizes live music/concerts as “operations that must currently remain closed” at venues and wineries, but restaurants around the Central Coast have been allowing for outdoor live music. There are parameters to allow live music; restaurants now are outdoor operations only and must follow state guidelines, stating restaurants must provide a full sit down meal with alcohol sales included on the same purchase ticket. 

SLO County emergency information provides outdoor guidance of seating operations for live music compared to indoor, which is currently not permitted. 

SLO Brew Rock has been successful in keeping their concerts separate from the guests. The live music stage is set up indoors, but they have doors open for onlookers to enjoy from a seated distance. Keeping the music to a lighter genre of soft reggae or acoustic helps slow the attention of drawing a large crowd to a more relaxed social-distanced setting.  

 “I wear a mask when I’m at the Rock,” said Gabby Lazo, a student at Cuesta College. “It’s nice because their band plays indoors while we can enjoy being safely distanced outside sitting at a table listening to music enjoying some food and drinks.”

The Libertine has had live music indoors. While their space has fully opened walls that allocate to an open aired space, it poses difficulty to practice safe distancing inside. 

“It’s a weird feeling because there’s large groups and over time people forget to wear a mask when ordering another drink or using the restroom,“ Lazo said. “I want to enjoy myself and be comfortable but it’s tough.”

Smaller local beer pubs such as Humdinger Brewery, The Olde Alehouse, and Broad Street Public House also host musical artists to come perform live to their seated outdoor guests. These are smaller spaces with limited seating, allowing for more distance between tables and a quiet atmosphere.

The re-shut down of SLO County by California governor Gavin Newsom makes it unclear what may lay ahead for restaurants as well as holding live musical performances.