With COVID-19 cases rising recently due to the delta variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending that even vaccinated Americans go back to masking up indoors in virus hot spots. 

In New York City, Broadway theaters will now require ticketholders to be vaccinated and wear masks, according to a story published July 30 in the New York Times.

So where does that leave ticketholders here in metro Phoenix?

Most venues and promoters we reached out to said they had no plans to modify their safety protocols for now.

In some cases, those venues already had mask recommendations in place.

ASU Gammage already had a mask requirement

Masks will be required on all guests at ASU Gammage when the season opens on Sept. 8 with “Hamilton” but those plans were in place before this latest surge caused by the Delta variant. 

“Season ticket holders knew that when they purchased their tickets,” Kari Amarosso, ASU Gammage’s public relations manager, explained. “That was part of our language. And that has not changed. Nothing has changed in a way.” 

Those protocols at Gammage will continue to evolve as the reopening approaches, and Amarosso encourages ticketholders to check back before attending a performance on COVID-19 safety protocols posted on the venue’s website.

For now, those Gammage protocols include:

  • All patrons must wear a mask while in the building and provide their own mask. If patrons cannot wear a mask, they cannot enter.
  • Staff will be required to wear masks and take temperature checks prior to their work shift.
  • All high touch points will be sanitized and cleaned frequently.
  • Additional hand-sanitizing stations have been added in the theater’s lobbies.

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Herberger Theater following CDC guidelines

Herberger Theater’s season is set to launch Oct. 3 for “Selena Maria Sings.”

The Herberger’s president and CEO Mark Mettes said, “We stay up to date with what the CDC is recommending so we did implement a new mask policy for our staff. And we’re just going to keep monitoring the guidelines, following what the CDC puts out.”

Mettes said he feels that Herberger will have a bit more clarity by late August or early September and those protocols will likely stay the same throughout the season.

“We want to make sure that all of our guests know what to expect when they’re buying tickets to the shows,” he said.

For now, those protocols include:

  • All guests, volunteers and staff must wear cloth face coverings with two or more layers of breathable fabric that cover both the nose and mouth and fit snugly along the sides of the face and securely under the chin. Face coverings may be removed only while enjoying concessions purchased at the bar in designated seating areas.
  • Guests are required to maintain 6 feet of physical distance between themselves and other parties from different households. Signage and floor markings will be in place as a reminder.
  • Seating areas will have chairs in place to ensure proper distancing. Chairs in each area must be used by guests that arrive together or purchase tickets in a single transaction.
  • Ticket scanning for entry will be touch-free.
  • Guests who are not feeling well or who have symptoms should not attend and will be allowed to exchange their tickets or receive refunds.
  • Occupancy of interior restrooms will be limited, with ongoing sanitation of high-touch surfaces.
  • Staff, associates and volunteers will submit daily health screenings, including temperature checks. Anyone reporting symptoms or not feeling well will not be permitted to be at or work at the theater.

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Major concert venues following local and/or CDC guidelines

The Valley’s largest promoter, Live Nation, has concerts scheduled in August at Ak-Chin Pavilion, Footprint Center, Arizona Federal Theatre and the Van Buren.

“We’re working closely with local officials and following the recommended safety guidelines as they evolve,” the global entertainment company responded in a statement.

“We also encourage everyone who can to get vaccinated as that is the best way for us all to get back to doing what we love.”

Dean Stoyer, the chief marketing and communications officer at Phoenix Suns said Footprint Center recommends mask usage to align with CDC recommendations.

“Artists may have their own requirements regarding staff in the backstage area,” Stoyer said. “But we’ll address those on a show-by-show basis. 

Tom LaPenna at Lucky Man Concerts said that starting Sunday, Aug. 1, the Marquee Theatre in Tempe will require all employees to show proof of vaccination and wear masks when on the property.

There are no changes, though, for concertgoers at this time, LaPenna said, adding “We reserve the right to change safety protocols for employees and patrons at any time.

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‘I’m still feeling like we’re optional’

Promoter Danny Zelisko has concerts coming up at Talking Stick Resort and the Celebrity Theatre. 

He said there are no plans for now to require concertgoers to wear masks. 

“I know the suggestion has been there for people to wear masks inside,” Zelisko said.

“I’ve been about 50/50 myself with it. But as far as shows go, I’m still feeling like we’re optional. We haven’t been asked by anybody to ask the audience to mask up, whether it be a theatre or a group.”

It would be very difficult, Zelisko said, to tell someone who already bought a ticket, after the fact, that masks are now required. 

“You can can recommend it,” he said. “But some people are weird about it and they just won’t do it.”

He does, however, strongly recommend unvaccinated concertgoers to mask up. 

“If you haven’t been vaccinated, I think you would be wise not to go into public anywhere without a mask,” he says.

“If for whatever reason you decide not to get vaccinated, you have to at least allow for the reality that this (expletive) exists and you can get it because you don’t have a vaccination.”

Reach the reporter at [email protected] or 602-444-4495. Follow him on Twitter @EdMasley.

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