Did Ticketmaster announce a plan for mandatory COVID-19 vaccine ID to attend concerts or other live events? No, that's not true: Ticketmaster, and other companies, have been working to design systems to safeguard fan safety at local venues holding live events. This plan is not finished, but some of the logistics were discussed in a Billboard Magazine article. The proposed plan includes either proof of having recently tested negative for COVID, or proof of having received the vaccine and various systems to link that information, in a secure, HIPAA compliant way, with the ticket. Ticketmaster does not have the authority to make venues comply with their plan, rather this is a service that Ticketmaster plans to offer to local venues that adopt a fan safety plan.
The claim appeared in a meme (archived here) where it was published by Informed Mothers on November 11, 2020. It was captioned:
"It's just a mask" turned into "It's just a vaccine" real quick. Ticket giant Ticketmaster announced yesterday mandatory Covid vaccines will be required, or a negative Covid test within the previous 24-72 hours to be allowed to attend concerts and sporting events worldwide. I'm boycotting Ticketmaster, along with any other companies trying to push this dangerous narrative. Our freedom, safety and children at stake. We cannot allow this. #BoycottTicketmaster #IDONOTCONSENT
This is how the post appeared on Instagram at the time of writing:
(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Fri Nov 13 12:320:17 2020 EST)
Although the caption of the @informedmothers post on Instagram does include mention of either a vaccine or a recent negative test result, the text of the meme frames this plan as a mandatory vaccine and does not mention the testing option:
Ticketmaster is planning mandatory COVID vaccine identification for concert attendance. We told you it was coming and now it's here. Young healthy people DO NOT need a vaccine for a virus with a 99% recovery rate and Ticketmaster is not your physician.
This claim was also gaining momentum on November 11, 2020 from a tweet (archived here) by Dr. Simone Gold, the founder of America's Frontline Doctors. She called for a boycott of Ticketmaster and included a link to an article from liveforlivemusic.com. Dr. Gold made news back on Oct. 18, 2020, when, in an appearance on the steps of the US Supreme Court, she made an unsubstantiated claim in front of the cameras, "The facts are actually not in dispute. Masks are completely irrelevant in blocking the SARS-Cov-2 virus."
This claim was debunked by Lead Stories here: Fact Check: America's Frontline Doctors Did NOT Prove Their Claims That Masks Don't Work.
On November 11, 2020 Billboard.com published an article titled, "How Ticketmaster Plans to Check Your Vaccine Status for Concerts: Exclusive". Within the first paragraph, the dramatic headline was diluted by the revelation that not only the vaccine status, but a negative Coronavirus test would be considered for this post-pandemic fan safety option that is in the works:
Monday's news that pharmaceutical company Pfizer's early results on a new COVID-19 vaccine showed a 90% efficacy rate on an initial clinical trial have given concert professionals hope that the business can start mounting a return in 2021. As part of that preparation, Ticketmaster has been working on a framework for post-pandemic fan safety that uses smart phones to verify fans' vaccination status or whether they've tested negative for the coronavirus within a 24 to 72 hour window.
Later in the article, Billboard quotes Ticketmaster President Mark Yovich who is very clear that flexibility and options for venues and fans are the goal:
"We're already seeing many third-party health care providers prepare to handle the vetting -- whether that is getting a vaccine, taking a test, or other methods of review and approval - which could then be linked via a digital ticket so everyone entering the event is verified," Yovich tells Billboard. "Ticketmaster's goal is to provide enough flexibility and options that venues and fans have multiple paths to return to events, and is working to create integrations to our API and leading digital ticketing technology as we will look to tap into the top solutions based on what's green-lit by officials and desired by clients."
Many outlets published articles citing information provided in the Billboard article, People, Daily Wire, The Independent. The BBC's article had a clarifying headline, "No, Ticketmaster won't force you to have a Covid vaccine".
Ticketmaster published an article in the help section of their website, "What are your COVID screening requirements?" It says, in part:
There is absolutely no requirement from Ticketmaster mandating vaccines/testing for future events. Unfortunately, this has been widely reported and is incorrect. Ticketmaster does not have the power to set policies around safety/entry requirements, which would include vaccines and/or testing protocols. That would always be up to the discretion of the event organizer, based on their preferences and local health guidelines.
We are exploring a number of safety features for event organizers to utilize as they look to welcome fans back to events. This includes tools from Ticketmaster's recently announced SmartEvent suite like social distanced seating, contactless entry and more (read more info on SmartEvent here). Again, the event organizer will determine what, if any, of these measures are implemented at their individual event, not Ticketmaster.
The Informed Mothers Instagram account was not the only place on social media where only part of the plan in development was presented to the social media audience. Below is a collection of memes which neglect to mention the options explained in the Billboard article.
Below is a screenshot of an archived copy of Dr. Simone Gold's tweet calling for a boycott. This shows the original headline from Liveforlivemusic.com that was later clarified by that website. They published a correction in the article, "Ticketmaster Developing Plan For Event Organizers To Implement COVID-19 Vaccine, Testing Guidelines":
Correction: An earlier version of this article used the headline, "Ticketmaster Reportedly Developing Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccine, Testing Guidelines For Concert Attendance." That is not the case. Ticketmaster is developing this framework for event promoters to employ if they choose, but the company does not have the power to set policies surrounding security/safety requirements, which include vaccine/testing protocols.