Chicago-area theater companies to require proof of vax, negative COVID tests, masks

The protocols will be in effect for performances Sept. 1 through Dec. 31.

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The Goodman Theatre is among a growing coalition of Chicago-area theaters implementing strict new COVID safety guidelines for its staff, crews, performers and audience members.

The Goodman Theatre is among a growing coalition of Chicago-area theaters implementing strict new COVID safety guidelines for its staff, crews, performers and audience members.

Neil Steinberg/Sun-Times

If you plan on attending live theater performances in and around the Chicago area in the months ahead, you’ll need to adhere to strict new COVID-19 safety protocols announced Tuesday by the League of Chicago Theatres.

A growing coalition of the area’s performing arts venues and producers will require audience members to show proof of vaccination or negative COVID test results to gain entry to participating theaters. The protocols will be in effect Sept. 1 through Dec. 31.

In addition, masks must be worn at all times throughout the performances and throughout the venues. Other restrictions may be in place for those venues offering refreshments.

Protocols may vary slightly by venue, so patrons are asked to check a theater’s website prior to ticket purchase or arriving.

The new guidelines also apply to all performers, staff and crew at each participating theater.

“The health and safety of our patrons is our main concern. The theatre community was the first to close and the last to reopen and this has been a tremendous loss for the city of Chicago and the economic generator that the arts provide,” said Broadway In Chicago president, Lou Raizin, in Tuesday’s announcement. “On an annual basis, pre-pandemic Chicago’s creative industries produced more than $17.6 billion in economic output, supported 81,300 jobs and generated more than $4.8 billion in household earnings — delivering $336.5 million in local and state government revenue. Given the necessity for theaters to open with 100% capacity our working together with fellow Chicago arts organizations has given us the opportunity to chart our way back to opening our doors and bringing our stages alive again safely.”

According to the official announcement, “fully vaccinated” means the performance date “must be at least 14 days after the second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, or at least 14 days after a single-dose vaccine. Attendees can also provide proof of a COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of the performance start time, or a negative COVID-19 antigen test taken within 6 hours of the performance start time.” Accommodations will be made for children under 12, people with a medical condition or for religious beliefs.

“The arts and cultural community is embedded in the fabric of Chicago,” said League executive director Deb Clapp. “Not all of the League’s more than 200 member theaters will be able to open this fall. We are pleased that many members of our vibrant performing arts community that will be opening have come together to craft a unified response to this crisis so that audiences can once again experience the joy of live performance without future disruption.”

In July, New York’s Broadway League announced mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations and masks for all of its member theaters.

In Chicago, the Goodman Theatre re-opened its production of “School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play” earlier this month with reduced seating capacity and a mandatory masking policy for its audiences.

“While all of us at The Second City love to improvise, this is one time when we’re all in agreement to commit to the script: get vaccinated...and keep our casts, staff, and patrons safe,” said Parisa Jalili, CEO of The Second City.

Currently, the roster of theater companies (according to Tuesday’s announcement) adhering to these new safety protocols includes:

  • 16th Street Theater
  • A Red Orchid Theatre
  • About Face Theatre
  • Aguijón Theatre
  • Albany Park Theatre Project
  • American Blues Theater
  • Apollo Theater Chicago
  • Artemesia Theatre
  • The Artistic Home
  • Aston Rep Theatre Company
  • Athenaeum Theatre
  • Auditorium Theatre
  • Babes with Blades
  • Black Button Eyes Productions
  • Bluebird Arts
  • Brightside Theatre
  • Broadway In Chicago,
  • Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble
  • Chicago Humanities Festival
  • Chicago Latino Theater Alliance
  • Chicago Magic Lounge
  • Chicago Shakespeare Theater
  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association
  • Chicago Youth Shakespeare
  • Court Theatre
  • First Floor Theatre
  • First Folio Theater
  • Goodman Theatre
  • Greenhouse Theatre Center
  • Harris Theater for Music and Dance
  • Hell in a Handbag
  • Her Story Theatre
  • High Concept Labs
  • House Theatre of Chicago
  • International Voices Project
  • The Joffrey Ballet
  • Lookingglass Theatre Company
  • Lyric Opera of Chicago
  • The Marriott Theatre
  • Midsommer Flight
  • The Neo Futurists
  • The New Coordinates
  • Northlight Theatre
  • Oak Park Festival Theatre
  • Oil Lamp Theater
  • Old Town School of Folk Music
  • Paramount Theatre
  • Piven Theatre Workshop
  • Pivot Arts
  • Playmakers Laboratory
  • Porchlight Music Theatre
  • Pridearts
  • Promethean Theatre Ensemble
  • Raven Theatre
  • Red Tape Theatre
  • Rivendell Theatre Ensemble
  • Saint Sebastian Players
  • Saltbox Theatre Collective
  • The Second City
  • Shattered Globe Theatre
  • Skokie Theatre
  • Stage Left Theatre
  • Steppenwolf Theatre Company
  • Theatre Wit
  • Three Brothers Theatre,
  • Timeline Theatre Company
  • UrbanTheater Company
  • Victory Gardens Theater
  • WildClaw Theatre
  • Williams Street Repertory Theatre
  • Writers Theatre
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