There is no sign of slowing ticket sales for concerts and events despite the Delta variant’s grip on Florida. Audiences are ready to venture out, but what should they expect when they go to a show in Tampa Bay?
Ticketmaster reported this week that June sales were the fourth best in company history. Tampa Bay venues, including Ruth Eckerd Hall and the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, have seen a number of sold-out shows in recent weeks.
“People seem to think COVID isn’t going anywhere, so how do we live with it? Said Summer Bohnenkamp, vice president of marketing and programming at the Straz Center. “We always want to have art and music in our lives and we have to figure out how to make it work.”
Here’s what to expect at local theaters, which have imposed policies ranging from proof of a vaccine or negative coronavirus test to mask rules. Keep in mind that protocols change often, so be sure to check a location’s website or Facebook page for updates.
Straz Center for the Performing Arts
Starting Saturday, one of Tampa’s largest performance venues will require either proof of vaccination or a negative test result within 72 hours of show time. Adding the option of a negative test allows event planners to bypass Florida law that prohibits companies from requiring customers to show proof of vaccination. Here is how the Straz will apply its policies:
- Similar to a bag check, customers will be asked to show their vaccination card or a photo of it on their phone before entering. They can also show an email, photo, or print of a negative COVID-19 test.
- For the test option, a negative PCR test is required within 72 hours or a negative rapid antigen test administered no earlier than 24 hours before performance. Home test kits are not accepted.
- All guests and staff are required to wear masks indoors.
- Straz policies can be found at strazcenter.org/safety. There is also a list of frequently asked questions on strazcenter.org/Plan-Your-Visit.
Ruth Eckerd Room
Clearwater Performing Arts Center does not require vaccination cards or testing. Staff wear face masks at all times. “We strongly encourage customers to wear masks, but it remains optional for people who are fully vaccinated,” spokeswoman Katie Pedretty said. The Florida Orchestra, which is hosting a Masterworks show on September 26, requires masks for all customers of its shows, regardless of vaccination status. The ward’s coronavirus guidelines can be found at rutheckerdhall.com/safety-guidelines.
MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater
Shows from concert promoter Live Nation at the Florida State Fairgrounds open-air amphitheater will have stricter rules starting October 4. All its employees will be vaccinated and spectators will be required to bring printed proof of vaccination or a negative test result. How will this be applied:
- Bring a printed copy of test results or proof of vaccination. Test results must be dated and time stamped. Home test results will only be accepted if there is a link to the results that you can print from a medical platform.
- Although Live Nation rules say a negative test is less than 72 hours old, some Live Nation artists have added an extra layer. For his sold-out October 10 show, pop star Harry Styles will need face masks and negative coronavirus tests must be administered within 48 hours of the show. And during the Maroon 5 September 24 show, fans must provide printed proof of vaccination or a negative test taken within 48 hours of the show.
- To reduce staff contact with guest belongings, only clear plastic tote bags or small pouches no larger than 6 inches are permitted.
- See amphitheater policy updates at midflorida.com/events.
The St. Petersburg Theater Company returned to live performances, with limitations. All performances have a reduced capacity audience and the audience is required to wear face masks before, during and after a performance. “The performance will be interrupted if a client takes off his mask and until he replaces it,” warns American Stage on its website. You can find its hygiene and safety protocols on americanstage.org/sante.
Valet parking is suspended at the St. Petersburg Concert Hall. Contactless payments are available and plastic screens are in place in all bars. Mahaffey encourages guests to wear masks, but they are not required. Note that the Florida Orchestra, which presents its first Masterworks show there on September 25, requires masks for all customers of its shows, regardless of vaccination status. You can find updates to Mahaffey’s health and safety guidelines at themahaffey.com/about/healthandsafety.