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Orange County performing arts venues announce new vaccination, mask mandates

Jeanne Franco, center, and other participants work on choreography at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
Jeanne Franco, center, and other participants work on choreography from Chicago during a class at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts Argyros Plaza.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Patrons looking to enjoy a concert or a play at several major performing arts venues across Orange County are now going to need more than just a ticket for admission.

With O.C. having experienced another summer surge of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, Arts Orange County, a nonprofit countywide arts council, announced a joint commitment by eight venues to new safety protocols, including requiring proof of vaccination and indoor masking.

Participating organizations include the Irvine Barclay Theatre, Musco Center for the Arts, Pacific Symphony, Pacific Chorale, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Soka Performing Arts Center, Philharmonic Society of Orange County and South Coast Repertory.

The new mandates will be in effect for the foreseeable future and will be assessed with the course of public health during the pandemic going forward.

“The most effective way to reduce transmission and remain healthy is by following procedures, including vaccination, and wearing a mask,” said Jerry Mandel, president of the Irvine Barclay Theatre, in the Arts Orange County press release. “This policy will offer clarity and reassure all ticket holders that we take their safety seriously.”

A UCI Health study found infection during pregnancy increases the risk of preterm birth, ICU admittance and intubation. Still, the CDC reports fewer than 25% of expectant women have been vaccinated.

Irvine Barclay Theatre’s schedule of upcoming events under the new policy, which begins on Sept. 1, includes a staging of C.S. Lewis’ “The Great Divorce” as well as concert performances by Jake Shimabukuro, the Wailin’ Jennys and Michael Feinstein. Eventgoers are required to provide proof of vaccination through a digital record, physical card or a photograph of one.

Children between 3 and 12 years of age who are currently ineligible to receive a vaccine may be admitted but must wear a mask indoors at all times.

In a separate press release, the Segerstrom Center for the Arts noted that its vaccine requirement also extends to performing artists and that “fully vaccinated” is defined as 14 days after having received the second shot of a two-dose vaccine such as Pfizer or Moderna or the same time period after a single dose of Johnson and Johnson one.

“The success in reopening live performing arts venues lies heavily with everyone,” said Casey Reitz, president of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, in a statement. “Having a fully vaccinated audience ensures a safe environment. Everyone plays an important role, not just on stage, but in the audience. We are excited to raise the curtain again!”

Ahead of hosting several Broadway shows in the fall, Segerstrom Center for the Arts touts additional safety protocols that include improved air quality, touchless hand-sanitizing stations and rigorous cleaning.

While committing to the new mandates collectively, each venue has its own set of policies that vary from each other.

At Segerstrom Center for the Arts, adults who haven’t been vaccinated can provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken at least three days before an event and still be allowed inside, but they must wear masks.

Anyone who fails to comply with any of the safety measures won’t be allowed inside.

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