Some Arts NPOs Requiring Masks, Proof Of Vaccination

As performing arts venues and cultural organizations prepare for a new season of programming this fall, they’re grappling with how to hold in-person events amid the delta variant of the coronavirus.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Ford’s Theatre announced that patrons must show a government-issued photo ID and proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 to attend all indoor performances and events this fall. Masking also will be required inside, regardless of vaccination status, except while eating and drinking in authorized areas. The vaccine mandate for all artists, employees, volunteers, and patrons at the two Washington, D.C., performing arts venues will be in effect as of Sept. 1.

“Fully vaccinated” means that 14 days have passed since either the second shot of a CDC- or WHO-approved two-shot vaccine, or since the administration of a one-shot vaccine. Those younger than age 12, patrons with a medical condition or closely-held religious beliefs that prevent vaccination will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

The vaccination requirements do not apply to daytime visitors at the Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site or Kennedy Center visitors in limited public areas or outdoor spaces. The Ford’s Theatre policy will be valid through October but the requirement might be extended based on location conditions and guidelines from its medical advisors and partners. The guidance was developed in collaboration with the George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates.

The Kennedy Center will re-evaluate the vaccine and mask policy on a monthly basis and as “conditions and trusted medical guidance evolve.” COVID-19 guidance was developed in collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic.

Effective Aug. 19, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has required all visitors older than 12 to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Masks are required for all visitors. At The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, which is open at full capacity, masks are required indoors as are timed tickets.

The Metropolitan Opera will implement a mandatory vaccination policy for audiences. Patrons will be asked to show proof of vaccination upon arrival, as well as for artists, orchestra, chorus and staff. Face masks might be required depending on the CDC guidelines at the time of the performance.

Audience members will have to provide verification through the CLEAR app, the Excelsior pass for New York State residents, or an original vaccination card or photo of it. “Trained individuals will review your proof of vaccination as you arrive at the Met,” according to a statement from the venue.

Children younger than 12 are not permitted to enter the Met regardless of the vaccination status of their guardian since they do not meet eligibility for a vaccine. When children younger than 12 become eligible to receive a vaccine, fully vaccinated children will be allowed in the Met.

Audience members also are asked to sign a COVID waiver when purchasing tickets and in pre-performance email confirmations.

Starting in October, proof of full vaccination will be required to attend Los Angeles Philharmonic concerts as well as for staff and artists working events. When it comes to children younger than 12, LA Phil has canceled its fall Toyota Symphony for Youth concerts. “As soon as children under the age of 12 become eligible to receive a vaccine, fully vaccinated children will be welcomed back to LA Phil concerts.”

The Los Angeles County Department of Health requires all guests, regardless of vaccine status, to wear masks inside LA Phil’s Walt Disney Concert Hall.

The Houston Symphony last month issued a statement “strongly encouraging all of its employees to be vaccinated.” The administration instituted a mandatory vaccination policy, effective Sept. 1, for all employees, including musicians who voted to pass a side letter that includes the vaccination requirement as part of their collectively bargained work rules, according to a spokesman. Accommodations will be for “medical exemptions or sincerely held religious beliefs.”

There is not yet a requirement for audience members to be vaccinated or wear masks. The Houston Symphony is still following CDC and local government recommendations to determine how to go forward.