The show will still be held on Aug. 30. The outdoors shows will take place in front of limited or no audiences.
“In close consultation with state and local health officials, it became clear at this time that outdoor performances with limited or no audience would be more feasible and safer than an indoor event,” said an MTV statement. “The VMAs will highlight the boroughs in an exciting show and return to Barclays Center in 2021. MTV will continue to work closely with the Department of Health, state and local officials, the medical community, and key stakeholders to ensure the safety of all involved.”
The New York Post’s Page Six reported that some staffers said they did not feel safe with an indoors show.
Keke Palmer will host the show, with performances scheduled from K-pop group BTS, Doja Cat and J Balvin.
It would’ve marked the first time the show has been at Barclays since 2013.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo originally confirmed the date and venue Monday during one of his regular briefings about the pandemic. During the governor’s brief mention of the event, one of his prepared slides declared, “The event will follow all safety guidance, including limited or no audience.”
MTV later confirmed the plan in a press release, asserting that “the health and safety of artists, fans, industry, staff, and partners is of the utmost importance.”
Producers of the show, in co-operation with Barclays management, “have been working closely with state and local officials to implement best practices for everyone involved,” the release noted. Precautionary measures will include social distancing procedures, capacity limitations and the “virtualization of components where possible.”
The release said details and potential options will be released at a later date, “based on the science and data in New York.”
The VMAs have been held in the New York area for the past couple of years, hitting Newark, NJ last year after Radio City Music Hall in 2018.
New York City faced the worst of the early weeks of COVID-19, with total deaths exceeding 800 a day in April, taxing hospitals and emergency resources, but the tide has turned recently. As the rest of the nation copes with a major surge in COVID-19, New York is headed the other direction.
While other public events scheduled in the city and the restart of restaurant table service have been focused on outdoor events, the VMAs would have been one of the first major indoor events.