Felton Music Hall forced to close again one month after reopening due to COVID outbreak

Four Santa Cruz County residents were hospitalized due to a COVID-19 outbreak at a popular music venue.

After opening in June for the first time since COVID appeared, the doors of the Felton Music Hall were again closed in July.

"We’re taking the steps to shut down until August 5 to make sure all staff have received negative tests," the owner of the hall, Thomas Cussins, said.

He said after a show on July 18, two patrons tested positive for the virus. Then two more the following day. And then members of the group Grateful Shred tested positive. All four patrons have been hospitalized in Santa Cruz County.

"So that does qualify under the state definition of an outbreak. However, we expect that there may be more based on some of the information provided to us by the venue," the Santa Cruz County communications manager, Jason Hoppin, said.

The Felton Music Hall has been a decades-old launching pad for new acts, and friendly surroundings for performers who have seen their shine fade.

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The hall was half-full when the outbreak occurred. Some patrons were vaccinated, and masks were offered but not mandatory.

"Even if you had a perfect-case scenario where everyone was vaccinated and everyone was six feet apart in an indoor area, because of just the way the virus works with breakthrough cases, people were bound to develop symptoms and contract COVID," said Dr. Anthony Stantella, the COVID-19 policy coordinator at the University of New Haven.

Grateful Shred posted a statement to social media that read in part, "Nearly all of the band and crew have tested positive and are at home recovering with their families."

The owner of the music hall said he sent emails to everyone who attended the show on July 18 advising them to get tested. Going forward, masks will be required, and COVID vaccines will be necessary for all staffers who want to be scheduled to work.

"We just really hope that everybody goes and gets their vaccine. Because this delta variant is nothing to joke with," Cussins said.

Cussins said he expects the doors to the music hall to reopen on August 5.