Letter: Place public safety ahead of revenue

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Please shut down Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville until such time as mask mandates are no longer in effect.

On Friday, Oct. 29, I attended a sold-out concert at Harrah’s Center because face masks and proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test were required. I was surprised when I attended the concert that the vast majority of 6,500 people in attendance were not wearing face masks, and the city-owned venue is unable to enforce a face-mask requirement indoors. In fact, their announcement just prior to the concert commencing was that face masks are strongly encouraged.

I emailed our City Council members to ask if they had made the change from face masks required to strongly encouraged, and I am still waiting for a reply. Furthermore I added: Are you aware of this, and if so, what will or can you do about it? I urge you to place public safely ahead of revenue needs and not resume events at Harrah’s Center until mask mandates are no longer in effect.

Their website should have a disclaimer for all of our protection to the effect of: “While masks are required for indoor activities, the city of Asheville is unable to enforce this mandate at Harrah’s Center. Please enter at your own risk and agree to hold Harrah’s and the city harmless in the event of COVID-19 illness or death.” Perhaps a line as well agreeing: “In the event of death from attending an event at the venue, my successors or heirs will also hold them harmless.”

— Ian Rudick

Editor’s note: Xpress contacted city spokesperson Polly McDaniel with a summary of the letter writer’s points, and we received the following response: “The city of Asheville, including Harrah’s Cherokee Center, has worked closely with Buncombe County Public Health to follow each federal, state and local mandate. Staff at the entrance ensure that each person is wearing a mask and either has proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. The mask requirement is posted throughout the building and is stated in an email to attendees and on social media.  Buncombe County and the city of Asheville encourage everyone to get vaccinated, as it is the No. 1 tool to fight against COVID-19, followed by regular testing and masks.”


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to letters@mountainx.com

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

2 thoughts on “Letter: Place public safety ahead of revenue

  1. James

    I find this interesting. My wife and I attended the Asheville Symphony performance in this same facility (but in the TW Auditorium) on November 20, and we were quite surprised at the compliance with the stated rules. These would have been the same employees manning the door, checking vaccination card and IDs ( I saw them turn away several who did not think to bring their ID), and briefing the concert-goers as to the house rules.
    Once inside, masks we’re almost ubiquitous. I saw one man in his 60s, affluent and enjoying his bourbons, who did not seem to think that these rules applied to him. But he was the only one. And everyone stayed covered the entire performance. I really would have expected more resistance from the age group, economic tier, and entitlement level of the patrons who most often attend the Symphony, but they behaved quite well.

    Might I purpose that it is the crowd itself who attended your concert that is at fault, and not the facility?

    • comefth1954

      James, While I agree with you that the crowd was unwilling to mask, I feel the city has a responsibility to create conditions that keep the public safe. Therefore, close the facility until such time as masks are no longer mandated IMHO.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.