Will Chicago theaters lift the mask and vax mandates on February 28?

Opera theater

The city and state’s mask and proof of vaccination mandates for entry to nearly every venue, restaurant and store may be history Monday, but that doesn’t mean every theater in direct from Chicago will abandon them.

Currently, spectators are required to present proof of vaccination for entry and to wear masks for the duration of all indoor performances. The policies have been put in place over the past year by show producers and venue operators to comply with city and state mandates, and where applicable, Actors safety protocols Equity, the union representing those working in live theater performance.

The end of mandates does not mean that a particular bar, restaurant, cultural center or theater should remove its current security protocols. The Sun-Times reported that starting Feb. 28, the city will stop requiring restaurant, bar and gym patrons to wear masks and show vaccination cards, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady at a press conference at City Hall. .

“Many residents may continue to wear masks in public spaces for a variety of reasons – even if they are vaccinated or as more mandates and advisories fade. … Additionally, some sites may continue to impose their own mitigation efforts to keep their customers and clients safe. It is their right. And we have to respect that,” Lightfoot said.

The League of Chicago Theatres, which advocates for more than 200 Chicago-area theaters, sent a letter to its members stating that the majority of its member theaters will continue with current mandatory mask/proof of vaccination policies, citing recent surveys stating “this is what our audience wants and some artists and their representatives have said they would like this policy to continue as well. The league’s “unified COVID-19 protections plan”, in place since fall 2021, will remain in effect “until further notice” but would be “reviewed regularly based on the needs and comfort of our customers, our staff and our artists” and could be relaxed at any time.

A quick check Tuesday of select area theaters indicated that current protocols would remain in place for patrons regardless of the Feb. 28 lift, according to the League’s statement.

Broadway in Chicago (BIC), the city’s largest musical producer operating in the Loop’s biggest live theaters including the Cadillac Palace Theater and the Nederlander Theater, is maintaining its policy of mandatory masks and proof of identity. vaccination in place “for the time being,” a spokesperson said Tuesday evening. Currently, three BIC productions would be involved: “The Play that Goes Wrong” at the Broadway Playhouse, “The Simon & Garfunkel Story” at the CIBC Theater and Teatro ZinZanni at the Spiegeltent ZaZou on the 14th floor of the Cambria Hotel.

The Black Ensemble Theatre, which returns to live performances in March, noted in a press release for its upcoming production of “It’s Like Coming to Church” that it is “moving slowly, carefully and cautiously”. His shows on the main stage will last 90 minutes, with no intermission, and no food or drink will be served. Masks will remain mandatory.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra “will not be changing hearing protocols at this time,” a spokesperson confirmed, citing its alignment with the statement from the League of Chicago Theaters and “the largest coalition of arts organizations of the scene who continue to meet regularly and monitor the development of the situation”. with COVID.

Congo Square Theater will require proof of vax or a negative test for all ticket holders for its production of “What to Send Up When It Goes Down.”

The Opéra Lyrique will also maintain its policy requiring proof of full vaccination to enter the theatre. Masks will remain mandatory at all performances.

Hell in a Handbag Productions will still require proof of vaccination and masking for its current production of “The Drag Seed”.

Chicago-area theaters have been hit hard by mandatory closures in place since 2020, forcing many shows to be canceled or postponed to 2022 or beyond. Safety protocols such as social distancing seating and proof of masks/vaccination have been instituted since fall 2021 to effectively enable the return of in-person performances.

The Chicago Independent Venue League (CIVL) released its own statement on Tuesday, asking patrons of its member concert halls, music halls and comedy clubs to be patient. “We ask customers to be vigilant – to know before they leave. That means saving that photo of your vaccine card to your phone and keeping a mask in your back pocket. Every place is different, and for many, these small efforts have brought relief. We’re still here because many have chosen safety, and we’re asking customers to do the same. »

REMARK: If you’re planning on attending a live theater in the area in the coming weeks, check the theaters’ websites for their up-to-the-minute COVID policies.

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