Before the confirmation that a developmental talent who was at the Performance Center last week tested positive for COVID-19, word went around that people other than contracted wrestlers were in the crowd for the June 15 tapings.
That took on new significance in light of the coronavirus case. It drew even more attention when reports came out from WrestleTalk, Wrestling Observer, and others that talent were not informed about new people in the crowd or the positive test prior to the news breaking around 10:30 p.m. Eastern last night. The volume on the whole thing was turned up louder when the lack of masks on anyone in the crowd became a talking point:
On top of nobody finding out about the COVID failure until it hit social media, I was told by multiple sources that WWE would not allow anyone in the crowd at the RAW taping Monday to wear masks.— Bryan Alvarez (@bryanalvarez) June 16, 2020
WWE has issued a statement addressing the fans and the lack of masks:
“Fans have not been in attendance at WWE events since March 13.
Yesterday, a select number of friends and family were permitted to attend WWE’s TV production.
These individuals were required to participate in medical screenings prior to entering the closed set at our training facility, and were kept apart from in-ring performers and production personnel.
Attendance was below 20% capacity and social distancing guidelines were adhered to with at least six feet between parties, thus face masks were not required.”
Whether they were “fans” or “friends and family” doesn’t seem to be the issue. They’re new variables in the equation, who likely have interacted with more & different people than the folks who have been in the crowd over the past couple weeks.
Likewise, the justification for lack of masks seems flimsy. Over the course of a long day of taping, did people drift within six feet of each other? Can disease-transmitting particulates travel farther than six feet when people are being asked to scream and chant?
Orlando-based reporter Jon Alba, who tweeted about “fans” being in attendance last night at about the same time Alvarez did, tweeted about the issue again today. Alba pointed out the fault in WWE’s social distancing argument, but did say that his sources denied they were told not to wear masks.
A WWE memo obtained by TMZ back in April indicated the company’s protocol for talent is to wear masks at the P.C., but take them off when the cameras are rolling.
We’ll see how this plays out from here. Hopefully everyone stays healthy while it does.
If WWE’s approach is to change, it’s talent who are said to be upset about the lack of communication that stand the best chance of forcing that change. But if enough happily toe the company line...
Precautionary #COVID19 testing! Gotta make sure we’re healthy and safe to entertain the globe every week!— Dean Muhtadi (@MojoRawleyWWE) June 16, 2020
I’m telling you, this test is really not bad at all! No pain, just a weird feeling! So don’t hesitate in case you need to take your test! #StaySafe #StayHYPED pic.twitter.com/sx3ib3f5yB