A consultant working in intensive care has described the decision to let two Stereophonics gigs go ahead at the start of the coronavirus outbreak as “downright insane”.
David Hepburn, who works at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, made the comment on Twitter.
Thousands of people packed into the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff on March 14 and 15 to see the Cwmaman band perform as part of their Kind 2020 tour.
Pictures and videos shared on social media from the band’s official Twitter account showed fans singing along in their droves at the venue, despite other major mass gathering events having been cancelled already.
Post from the March 14 concert…
Wales’ Six Nations match against Scotland was called off and football fixtures including Cardiff City’s home clash against Leeds United were postponed.
Dr Hepburn, who caught coronavirus himself but has since returned to work, said on Twitter: “With retrospect, as disapproving as I was at the time, the decision of Stereophonics to play those gigs in Cardiff at the start of the outbreak seems downright insane now.”
After seeing the thousands of fans in attendance, many people responded with anger, calling the decision to let the gigs go ahead as “irresponsible” and “selfish”.
Another doctor told WalesOnline that he and his wife sent Facebook messages to Stereophonics urging them to cancel the event.
“I don’t think we were the only medics to do,” said the doctor, who had bought tickets to the March 14 show.
“It became really clear in March what was happening [with coronavirus]. You could see that London was already having problems and that it was going to reach us.
“At that point there were already confirmed cases in Caerphilly and other parts of south east Wales.
“I’ve been a fan of the band since the very beginning and I have all their albums, so it was hard for me the ask them to cancel their gigs.
“But to have thousands of people all congregating together like that was just irresponsible.”
The doctor added that he sent an email to the band after the tour had ended requesting for his money back, which he would then donate to a Covid-19 charity or cause.
But he said he has heard nothing back.
“It’s easy to say in hindsight, but they had a responsibility to their fans, many of whom live in areas of Wales where there are a lot of vulnerable people who could be hit hard by the virus,” he added.
“When the band defiantly put their posts from the gig on social media, that was it for me. I will never go and see them again or buy any of their new albums.”
Motorpoint Arena said the decision to go ahead with the concerts was made following close monitoring of guidance by the World Health Organisation, Public Health Wales, UK Government and local public health authorities.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said in a press conference last week: “The whole of the UK moved to postpone mass gatherings on the same day. Scotland had announced they were going to a few days earlier but said it would start from the Monday, and the Monday [the Monday after the concerts on Saturday and Sunday] was the day on which the restrictions were introduced across the UK.
“So we were in no different a position here in Wales than anywhere else, and as soon as the advice was that it was clinically important to shut down major events that’s exactly what we did.”
Stereophonics have also been approached for comment.