A Peek Behind the Masks, Precautions at the Pandemic Grammys – NBC4 Washington

I’ve lined the Grammy Awards for the Related Press for 15 years. However this unusual yr appears like the primary time.

Constructed round performances, filled with singing and shouting, and with the most important crowd of any awards present, the Grammys appear uniquely improper for a world nonetheless within the coronavirus pandemic. However organizers are taking extraordinary measures to drag it off, and the AP was one in every of just some media retailers invited inside throughout the preparations, as long as our reporters took fixed COVID-19 exams and observe many different restrictions on the hyper-cautious scene.

For almost all of my years as an AP video journalist doing interviews on the party-like pink carpet on the Grammys, they’ve been held at Staples Middle, a spot the place the Los Angeles Lakers play basketball and music’s greatest superstars carry out concert events.

This yr there is no such thing as a pink carpet exterior, and the ceremony is subsequent door on the Los Angeles Conference Middle, a spot the place the upcoming schedule consists of the Bride World Bridal Present & Expo and the American Academy of Otolaryngology’s Head & Neck Surgical procedure Annual Assembly.

It is hardly the stuff of present enterprise glitz, although it has significance for me because the place I took the oath to turn out to be a U.S. citizen in 1996. And its a number of cavernous halls and spacious walkways are effectively suited to placing on a pandemic present.

These halls and walkways are so eerily quiet and empty as you stroll them, not like the buzzy, hectic scene you often see throughout the run-up to the Grammys, that it is arduous to imagine we’re simply a few days from Sunday’s telecast. The present shall be hosted by Trevor Noah and can embody performances by Cardi B, BTS, Doja Cat, Billie Eilish, Megan Thee Stallion, Harry Kinds, Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa.

“, it’s undoubtedly totally different, nevertheless it’s been enjoyable to simply be in a bubble with my group and my dancers and actually simply preparing for the evening,” Lipa advised me as she stood contained in the Conference Middle on a spaced-out backstage interview-and-photo space that’s the solely pink carpet we have now this yr. “I’m simply actually enthusiastic about the efficiency and I’m simply so excited and so grateful to simply be on that stage once more.”

Many cautious performers have stayed non-public and steered away from the media space, even with its tight anti-viral protocols. The AP workspace is about off with excessive, thick black curtains, and they’re consistently replenishing us with masks and hand sanitizer. Dropping your masks even for a second will deliver a scolding from safety, and we won’t herald any of our personal meals or water.

We’ve to maintain our distance from the musicians we interview, who’re the one individuals allowed to be mask-less, simply lengthy sufficient to be interviewed. Some request that we additionally put on plastic face shields.

My digital camera operator makes use of a six-foot increase mic to maintain his distance.

In a separate, cordoned-off space of the middle’s greatest corridor, performers who would usually be packed collectively on the Staples Middle stage amid a writhing crowd are as a substitute utilizing 4 separate levels dealing with one another so artists performing collectively can keep distant, with just about no viewers.

Exterior the sprawling constructing, carpenters and technicians have been constructing the levels that shall be a hub for Sunday’s awards.

The protocol for safety and credentials on the Grammys have at all times been very strict, however they’ve by no means earlier than concerned mouth swabs and thermometers. By the point Sunday’s present begins, I’ll have had 5 COVID-19 exams in 11 days. After we get a (fingers crossed) adverse end result, we get a credential to go in, however nonetheless have our temperature taken every day earlier than we enter.

Throughout a standard Grammys week, I would be all throughout city overlaying the crowded occasions which might be a part of the ritual, like Clive Davis’ annual gala.

Anthony Hamilton, who’s performing with Roddy Ricch and DaBaby on the telecast, advised me “It’s virtually like Mardi Gras out in L.A. when it’s Grammy time.”

“I’m used to everyone being right here all at one time,” he stated as we stood almost alone within the interview area, “a room full of individuals, all of your friends, each musician you ever needed to see within the music, within the media room and operating into individuals on the mall, operating round with all of the totally different vogue homes and simply having a very good time, a giant celebration.”


AP photographer Christopher Pizzello, and AP Leisure Writers Andrew Dalton and Jonathan Landrum Jr., contributed to this report.

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