Kennedy Center, Ford’s Theatre to require vaccination or proof of negative test

WTOP's Jason Fraley covers local COVID-19 mandates (Part 1)

The Kennedy Center and Ford’s Theatre announced Thursday that they will require all audience members to be fully vaccinated or provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

The move comes after an alliance of local theater venues announced strict coronavirus standards last week, followed by a similar announcement by local music venues this week.

“Our audiences have stuck by us with great solidarity over these last many months,” Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter said. “As we welcome them back to the Kennedy Center and enjoy live performances once again, it is also our duty to ensure our patrons’ health and security, as well as the safety of our performers and staff. Working together we can get back to what we love — the arts — but we must reopen cautiously and responsibly. These new measures will reduce risk and help all arts venues maintain the forward momentum we are feeling right now.”

Ford’s Theatre will perform a special outdoor performance of “Come From Away” at the Lincoln Memorial to honor the 20th anniversary of 9/11 before returning to indoor shows.

“We have longed for the day we can safely gather again to create art, and to draw in our audiences with visceral, thought-provoking and dazzling moments of live performance,” Ford’s Theatre Director Paul Tetreault said. “These requirements for vaccination and masking are an added assurance of our commitment to the safety and wellness of our theater patrons — necessary temporary measures to protect our community from contracting and spreading COVID-19.”

Beginning Sept. 1, patrons must show a government-issued photo ID and proof of full vaccination to attend all indoor performances and events at the Kennedy Center and Ford’s Theatre.

Audience members may display proof of vaccine on a smartphone or by showing a physical copy of the vaccination card or official vaccination record. “Fully vaccinated” means that 14 days have passed since either the second shot of a CDC or WHO-approved two-shot vaccine or since the administration of a CDC or WHO-approved one-shot vaccine.

Exceptions will be made for those who are under 12 years of age or for patrons with medical conditions (i.e. allergic reactions) or closely-held religious beliefs that prevent vaccination.

Those exempted patrons must instead provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

Acceptable forms of government-issued photo IDs include driver’s licenses and passports. Patrons younger than 18 may present a school photo ID. Those under 12 must be accompanied by an adult who meets the above requirements.

Masking will also continue to be required indoors regardless of vaccination status, except while eating and drinking in authorized areas.

Vaccination requirements do not apply to daytime visitors at the Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site nor for Kennedy Center visitors in limited public areas including the Hall of States, Hall of Nations, Grand Foyer, the REACH, or outdoor spaces.

The Kennedy Center plans to reevaluate its policy on a monthly basis based on guidance by the Cleveland Clinic, while Ford’s Theatre’s policy is currently valid through Oct. 31 with continued guidance from the George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates.

Both venues are public-private arts institutions named after assassinated U.S. presidents John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln.

Specific guidance and protocols can be found on the organizations’ respective websites:

Ford’s Theater

Kennedy Center

WTOP's Jason Fraley covers local COVID-19 mandates (Part 2)

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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