Maskless crowd at Coachella, prior to restrictions.
Maskless crowd at Coachella, prior to COVID-19 restrictions. Photo: Kent Nishimura/The Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles tightens rules, calls for mandatory vaccinations in theaters


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Negative COVID tests will no longer be sufficient to attend some cultural activities in Los Angeles. Fans of the Los Angeles Philarmonic are now required to be fully vaccinated to attend concerts at the Walt Disney Concert Hall beginning Oct. 9.

The announcement adds to the flurry of statements made by other performing arts groups that reflect the tightening of vaccination rules in the city.

Over the summer, vaccination campaigns have not been as successful as expected. This, coupled with the rapid spread of COVID-19's Delta variant, has led to a return of mandatory face masks in Los Angeles County venues, and put the anticipated Fall arts season at risk.

Despite many people opposing the idea of mandatory vaccination, a growing number of venues and cultural organizations are requiring proof of vaccination for audiences and performers to participate in live performances. Elsewhere, some Broadway theaters still allow rapid antigen testing within six hours prior to a performance.

In June, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra reopened Disney Hall to a vaccinated audience, and remains committed to the same vaccination policy.

"The public health data is pretty clear that vaccines are overwhelmingly effective in protecting against the Delta variant," said Ben Cadwallader, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra's executive director.

Some arts organizations that were looking forward to a return to cultural activities in the Fall are struggling and want to do everything they can to run their activities as best they can in smaller spaces.

"The reasoning was, 'How do we make everyone feel totally safe?' It's hard enough getting people to come to the theater. Let's control what we can control.'We have to make sure we deliver a production that we're incredibly proud of, and everyone has to feel very comfortable walking through the doors. If they don't feel comfortable and confident, they won't be able to enjoy the show," said Johnny Clark, artistic director of VS. Theatre Company.


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