Monday, August 16, 2021

Fox, Rialto, Congress, Others Will Require Proof of Vax or Negative COVID Test To Attend a Show

Posted By on Mon, Aug 16, 2021 at 5:05 PM

A number of local music venues will be requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to attend shows starting next month.

The Rialto Theatre, Club Congress, 191 Toole and the Fox Theatre announced Monday that they were part of a group of Arizona venues that would take the step by Sept. 20.

All four venues are in the process of reopening and will require patrons to wear masks at upcoming indoor shows before the vaccination policy kicks into place.

“The Rialto Theatre Foundation is extremely excited for our incredible lineup of shows,” said Cathy Rivers, executive director of the Rialto Theatre Foundation. “But with that said, we feel it’s important to be a part of keeping our community safe. Those of us who can get vaccinated should, so we protect those in our community who cannot. We hope to see you at a show enjoying live music again while also taking safety measures to look out for all of our community.”

She added that people should be careful about carrying their vaccine cards.

“I personally recommend people don't carry around their vaccine card,” Rivers said. “I would take a picture of it, put it in your wallet app on your phone, or make a photocopy of the card and keep that in your wallet.”

The Rialto has a wide range of performances in the coming weeks such as Amigo the Devil (Friday, Aug. 20), Neko Case (Monday, Aug. 23), and the Flaming Lips (Tuesday, Aug. 24). In addition, 191 Toole—a smaller warehouse venue that is also managed by the Rialto Theater Foundation—will have Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears (Friday, Aug. 20), Sian (Saturday, Aug. 21) and Nanpa Básico (Friday, Aug. 27).

Dave Slutes, entertainment director at Hotel Congress, said concert-goers would have to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to attend shows inside the legendary Club Congress, but not for shows on the outdoor patio. Slutes said Hotel Congress will continue to follow CDC guidance, as well as honoring artist requests regarding COVID protocol.

Slutes said there has been a lot of interest in the return of live music.

"COVID aside, the artists have been eager to get back out there, tickets have been selling like hotcakes, people have been very eager to see live music again," he said.

But he said there have been unexpected challenges, from the Delta wave to technical issues.

"Did you know that disco lights go bad if you don’t use them for 18 months?" Slutes said.

Fox Executive Director Bonnie Schock said the Fox decided to require proof of vaccination or a negative test because so many other venues are moving in that direction.

"Partly what triggered it at this exact moment is it's a changing time in the industry," Schock said. "AEG, Live Nation, and Broadway League have all put out this basic policy over the last week. AEG and Live Nation are major players in the national concert industry and we work with many of their artists. It's important for all of us to cooperate for the industry to work."

On Thursday, Aug. 19, the Fox will present The Mavericks, with the genre-bending band with country and Mexican influences performing their new album, En Español.

“We certainly chose the Mavericks very intentionally,” Schock said. “They've got ties to the Tucson community and the bassist is from here.”

The Mavericks show kicks a packed fall season for The Fox. Schock says she’s “excited to get the venue sparkling and shining again, but at the same time we have some worry because we don't have any control over what happens next.”

Fox staff and volunteers are required to be vaccinated and Schock urged audience members to get vaccinated before shows.

The CDC recently urged vaccinated and unvaccinated people to wear masks indoors in public spaces because the Delta variant is highly contagious. COVID is making a comeback here in Pima County, which recently moved into the “high transmission” category, according to the CDC.

Schock said Tucson has a hunger for live music, adding this season’s sales are breaking records, which is welcome news for Schock after 18 months of zero revenue. The live entertainment industry was one of the hardest hit by COVID and the Fox, the Rialto and Hotel Congress had to lay off most of its operational staff.

Both the Fox and Rialto are reopening with help from the Shuttered Venue Operations Grant from the Small Business Administration.

“I mean we wouldn't have been able to consider reopening with the number of shows that we put on sale at this point with zero revenue,” Schock said. “It was absolutely essential to our ability to book artists and to prepare the venue.”

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