Fans returning to El Paso concerts with some pandemic precautions


Kevin Gates's fans gather at the El Paso County Coliseum for a concert in El Paso, Texas on Tuesday, September 14, 2021. Photo by Noelia Gonzalez,

The pandemic shut down the concert scene in the borderland last year, but now fans are eager to see their favorite performers back on the stage.

“I traveled all the way from St. Louis, Missouri, 16-hour drive, left at 4 o’clock yesterday, just to be here,” said Jovan Tucker. She drove from St. Louis to see rapper Kevin Gates in September at the El Paso County Coliseum.

Tucker and her friend, Shannon Reed, said they waited in line two hours but were happy to finally be able to attend live events again.

“I’m not nervous about you know everything with COVID and the pandemic.” Tucker said. “I’m glad to finally be back outside. I’m an outdoor person, so this is great for me.”

Reed said concert goers need to do their part to stay safe by using a mask and getting vaccinated.

The El Paso County Coliseum requires face masks but the rule is not enforced according to people who attended the Gates concert. As fans lined up to enter the venue on that evening, the event staff didn’t appear to pay any attention to people who didn’t wear a face covering.

When event staff were asked why they were not enforcing the face coverings as they had confirmed was the policy during a phone call, the response was, “Why don’t you go inside and see.”

One fan, Iliana Dominguez, said she felt at ease removing her mask during the concert. “I mean I took the vaccine, I am fully vaccinated as of today. So maybe I can take some extra precautions, but I think for now I’ll be OK,” Dominguez said.

The mask requirement varies depending on the venue and it is often left up to the individual attending a concert to decide whether to comply or not. Masks are optional at the Don Haskins Center. The University of Texas at El Paso and other state institutions are bound by Texas Governor Gregg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates.

The crowd waiting outside the venue for the Alejandro Fernández concert in September included a mix of people not wearing their masks while they were outdoors. Some vaccinated fans didn’t see the need for a face covering inside either.

“Personally, I’m not going to be wearing my mask, but I’m not worried about the mask because since I’m vaccinated and I heard that majority of the people are vaccinated in El Paso, I’m not very worried”, Martinez said

Paola Martinez has been looking forward to the Alejandro Fernandez concert since May.

Back in September when Martinez went to the concert, 75% of El Paso’s residents 12 and older had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and at least 87% had gotten at least one shot. In November, 69% of El Paso’s residents 5 and older have been fully vaccinated and at least 81% have received the first shot, according to the City/County of El Paso COVID dashboard.

Attendance at concerts is growing. The fans outside the Don Haskins Center included fans all ages attending the concert. Alejandro Fernandez is a fan favorite in El Paso. Vaccinated fans said they are once again comfortable attending concerts.

Other’s like Valeria Mateos, appreciate the freedom to make their own choices about when to wear their mask. “Yeah, I mean I am planning on getting food or like a drink or something and I’ll take it off for that but I do plan on wearing it most of the time,”Mateos said.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases have been increasing in El Paso since Sept. 30 when an appeals court sided with Governor Abbott and eliminated mask mandates in Texas. The number of weekly COVID-19 cases in El Paso has doubled since mid September when the mask mandate was still in effect. The City Department of Public Health reports that more than 70% of infections in recent weeks has been among people that are not fully vaccinated.

If you are attending a local concert, check with your venue to find out what pandemic safety measures are required.

Here are some of the current mask policies at area venues:

The Plaza Theatre

125 W Mills Ave, El Paso, TX 79901

Phone: (915) 231-1100

Masks are optional

Abraham Chavez Theatre

1 Civic Center Plaza, El Paso, TX 79901

Phone: (915) 534-0600

Masks are optional

Speaking Rock Entertainment Center

122 S Old Pueblo Rd, El Paso, TX 79907

    Phone: (915) 860-7777

Masks are recommended

El Paso County Coliseum

4100 E Paisano Dr, El Paso, TX 79905

Phone: (915) 534-4229

  • Masks are optional

Don Haskins Center

151 Glory Rd, El Paso, TX 79902

Phone: (915) 747-5481

Masks are optional

Sun Bowl

2701 Sun Bowl Dr, El Paso, TX 79902

Phone: (915) 747 5000

Masks are optional


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