Major Sarasota entertainment venues now require COVID vaccine or negative test
As fall theater season kicks off, nine of the leading arts and cultural organizations in Sarasota County — including the Asolo Repertory Theater, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and Sarasota Orchestra — announced they will require proof of a COVID vaccination or a negative COVID test starting Sept. 26.
Yes, but: A Florida law enacted earlier this year bars businesses from requiring proof of vaccination and threatens a $5,000 fine for each violation.
- The rule goes into effect Sept. 16, and Gov. Ron DeSantis has been making threats to "stand up for freedom" and levy those fines.
Why it matters: The law does not address giving patrons an option — proof of vaccination or a negative test — and many arts and entertainment venues are enacting policies that will force a clear interpretation.
- The policy is similar to those at Tampa’s Straz Center for the Performing Arts and the Dr. Phillips Center in Orlando.
What they’re saying: "The arts and cultural organizations of Sarasota County comprise one of the three largest employment sectors of the community," the group wrote in a statement.
- "An increasing number of patrons and artists are extremely uncomfortable participating without strong health and safety protocols in place."
By the numbers: Arts leaders said internal surveys show more than 90% of their patrons are already vaccinated.
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