Theatre Washington extends masking, proof of vaccination requirements

The entertainment adage dictates “the show must go on.” For many Washington-area theatergoers, “with masks and proof of vaccination” will remain part of the script through the end of July.

Theatre Washington, an alliance of approximately 35 theaters in the D.C. region’s suburbs, has announced it will extend its previously-implemented policies requiring masks and COVID-19 vaccinations until at least July 31.

Mask-wearing and proof of vaccination will continue to be requirements for audience members, artists, staff and volunteers.

For audiences, it will mean displaying proof of vaccination when entering the theater, and wearing masks except while eating and drinking.

Theaters will offer exemptions for those who are not vaccinated, including children who are not yet eligible, people with certain medical conditions or those with closely-held religious beliefs. Those customers must instead present proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test — as defined by each venue — before the performance begins.

The group’s list of participating theaters includes Arena Stage, Round House Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Signature Theatre and Studio Theatre.

Live entertainment, including theater, was hard-hit early on in the pandemic. After a year of shutdown, theaters began to reopen approximately a year ago.

In late March 2022, Theatre Washington and Limelight Insights by Shugoll, a national marketing research company headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, conducted a survey about when and if regional theatergoers wanted the current mask and vaccination requirements in theaters to end.

Over three-quarters of respondents (77%) were very negative about eliminating the vaccination requirement, and the majority (53%) were not in favor of ending the mask requirement.

While the Kennedy Center has been part of the Theatre Washington alliance, as of May 15, proof of full vaccination or a recent negative test is no longer required. However, masks are required indoors unless eating or drinking.

Theatre Washington says it will continue to review its COVID-19 policies on a monthly basis.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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