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Major Idaho concert venue will still recommend masks, but not require them

The Ford Idaho Center's general manager says no COVID-19 cases have been traced directly to events at the arena, even without a mask mandate there.

NAMPA, Idaho — The Ford Idaho Center in Nampa typically brings in anywhere from 350,000 to 400,000 people a year.

Since June, the venue has been at full capacity and back to normal.

Following the CDC's recent updated guidance for everyone in an indoor public setting to mask up, Idaho Center management said they will proceed as normal with masks -- not required, but recommended.

“People aren't really wearing masks that often. I certainly see people who do, and that's great. I see people who chose not to, and that's OK, too,” said Andrew Luther, general manager for the Ford Idaho Center.

Luther said the venue has been going strong, and has been able to stay open because of sanitation practices between and during shows. He added that even without mask requirements, no direct COVID-19 infection has been traced to events at the center.

With COVID on the rise and the new CDC guidance to mask up, Ford Idaho Center's current recommendations will stay the same. According to the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker, Canyon County is in the red “high risk” category, meaning transmission level high.

Luther said if Southwest District Health came forward with a recommendation for the center to require masks, the venue would take it under consideration.

So until then, operations will continue and current COVID protocols will remain -- masks recommended, not required -- and social distancing or capacity limits will not be enforced.

Luther said not only do in-person concerts and shows bring joy to many, a large event can employ up to 500 people part-time, something he said the economy needs.

“Not to mention the ripple effects of people filling up the hotels and restaurants around the venue," Luther said. "And if those things go away, those grind to a halt, too. So it's not just us hosting the events; it's really pushing the economy to move forward.”

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