Oct 8, 2021 - COVID
Vaccine mandate hits Columbus performing arts
Ohio Theatre marquee theater sign in downtown Columbus.
Ohio Theatre in downtown Columbus. Photo: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

As of Friday, the biggest performing arts organizations in town require guests to be vaccinated or test negative for COVID-19 to attend indoor performances.

Why it matters: Cash-strapped venues and performance groups want to return to a busy slate of shows, but a late summer rise in COVID cases has made safety a priority.

What's happening: The new requirements go into effect this weekend for those over 12 years old and applies to all indoor Columbus Association for the Performing Arts shows, including those at the Ohio Theatre, Palace Theatre and Southern Theatre, among other venues.

  • Also instituting this policy are the Columbus Symphony, Shadowbox Live, BalletMet, Short North Stage and others.

How it works: Vaccinated individuals can show either a physical or digital copy of their vaccine cards.

  • For tests, an email, printed document or text message displaying the guest's name and negative test result is required — within 24 hours for rapid tests or 72 hours for PCR.
  • Guests will also need to bring a photo ID.

Flashback: Last month, Columbus reinstituted a citywide mask mandate for indoor spaces regardless of a person's vaccination status.

Between the lines: In venues big and small, mask enforcement has been spotty at best, as this Eric Church concert video from WCHM in September shows. But the vaccine and testing requirements should help prevent COVID spread.

Meanwhile, PromoWest concert venues — EXPRESS LIVE!, Newport Music Hall, The Basement and A&R Music Bar — started requiring vaccination Oct. 1, with no test option.

🗯 Alissa's thought bubble: I'm a huge fan of both live shows and keeping people safe. These new rules can make the entry process tedious, so plan to get there early.

  • A line stretched down the street well into the opening act's set when I recently saw New Found Glory at EXPRESS LIVE!.
  • Copy and laminate your vaccine card to protect it from the elements. A friend learned that the hard way at a rainy outdoor concert.
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