Sandy Springs opens concert series with no COVID restrictions

An image of Bumpin' the Mango performing at Candler Park in 2016. Credit: Emily Butler Photography

Credit: Special

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An image of Bumpin' the Mango performing at Candler Park in 2016. Credit: Emily Butler Photography

Credit: Special

Sandy Springs will lift pandemic safety restrictions for two outdoor concert series, but the director for the Fulton County Board of Health said she recommends people continue social distancing when attending public events.

Dr. Lynn Paxton said the percentage of people partially vaccinated in Fulton County is significantly below 85%, which officials consider a “magic number” for “herd immunity,” which means when a large part of the population is protected against COVID-19.

In Fulton, about 24% of residents have received their first vaccine dose, she said. Paxton added that there has been a recent rise in new cases of COVID-19 with about 4.2% of every 100 tests coming back positive for coronavirus.

The discussion comes on the heels of a comment earlier this week by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who said the agency is reconsidering its mask guidelines, including whether masks are necessary outdoors. The guidelines currently state “Masks may not be necessary when you are outside by yourself away from others, or with people who live in your household.”

City Council decided to open the outdoor concerts with no COVID-19 restrictions during an April 6 work session, noting Gov. Brian Kemp’s new executive order to end a ban on large gatherings.

In Sandy Springs, City Green Live concerts start April 30 at City Springs. The Concerts by the Springs series begins May 9 at Heritage Amphitheatre. Both series will open to full capacity crowds with no mask or social distancing requirements. The event will have free lawn seating and ticketed table seating.

Tickets for the two concert series went on sale Friday.

Sandy Springs Communication Director Sharon Kraun said signs will be posted at concerts suggesting concert-goers wear masks and social distance.

“We will let people self-distance,” Kraun said. “The tables (of six or four people) will help folks who want to distance from other people.”

“I think people are itching to get out …” Sandy Springs City Council member Jody Reichel said during the meeting. “Most people have been vaccinated.”

Councilman Andy Bauman disagreed with fellow council members preferring the city follow CDC guidelines and open the two concert series with social distancing required.

Even with the governor’s order, Georgia Department of Public Health spokeswoman Nancy Nydam said in an email to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “DPH’s recommendation has been and continues to be wear a mask in public, stay six feet from others, avoid large crowds, wash your hands frequently, and get a COVID vaccination.”

Paxton told the AJC that while people are less likely to contract the virus outdoors, everyone should still keep a safe distance from strangers.

“If I’m at an outdoor concert sitting within a foot of someone – if that person has COVID and you’re not vaccinated, it doesn’t take an expert to know that can be risky,” Paxton said.

The health director added that she’s been to outdoor concerts recently with vaccinated friends who social distanced.

“Would I go to a packed outdoor arena sitting next to someone (unknown) unmasked?” She said. “No, I wouldn’t do that.”

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