The Mayor of San Francisco London Breed will attend a press conference with California Governor Gavin Newsom outside Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant on Geary Street on June 3rd. San Francisco requires proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 for a range of indoor activities. Photo: Eric Risberg / Associated Press
San Francisco is now the second major US city to require proof of vaccination in “indoor high-contact areas”, sending a clear message to art fans: It is no longer enough to see a show in a theater or concert hall to provide evidence of a recent negative coronavirus test or simply wearing a mask.
The mandate given by Mayor London Breed on Thursday, August 12, goes into effect on August 20, ordering venues for events with a crowd of 1,000 or more to require a full vaccination for all guests 12 and older. The only exception is events where tickets were sold before Thursday, with a show date on or before September 15; these allow a negative test instead of a vaccination.
The citywide mandate also applies to employees at local arts and entertainment venues.
The artist Robin Lara puts on her mask in the West of Pecos restaurant before a performance in the Mission District on November 29th. Photo: Gabrielle Lurie / The Chronicle 2020
“We know that in order for our city to recover from the pandemic and thrive, we must use the best way to fight COVID-19 and that is vaccines,” Breed said in a statement. “Vaccines are our way out of the pandemic and our way back to a life where we can be safe together.”
BroadwaySF, that reopened “Hamilton” at the Orpheum Theater on Tuesday, August 10th, allowed the audience to present a vaccination record or recent negative test, “but will shortly update our guidelines and inform our customers,” said Communications Director Scott Walton.
The Chase Center, which has already required proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test for entry to the 18,064-person venue, plans to honor the order, starting with the next concert under the heading of Tame Impala on September 15.
The co-founder of the San Francisco Playhouse, Susi Damilano, meets theatergoer Patrick Colford in front of “Hold These Truths” at the San Francisco Playhouse on August 8th. Photo: Scott Strazzante / The Chronicle
“My gut reaction is okay, we’re pretty much doing that,” said Susi Damilano, production director of the San Francisco Playhouse, about Thursday’s order. She added that all but a few bystanders of the company had been in possession of vaccination cards as of June.
“If anything, I hope that people who are vaccinated but are nervous about going out will feel more comfortable with the introduction of this mandate.”
Indeed while lots Local venues and organizations in San Francisco and beyond have already begun demanding proof of vaccination from viewers in order to perform live.
“The Roxie feels great about San Francisco’s decision,” said Lex Sloan, executive director of the Mission District cinema. “We hope that it helps our employees and customers to feel safe so that everyone can enjoy their time in the cinema.”
Randy Taradash, Feinstein’s general manager and creative director at the Nikko, doesn’t think the mandate will be an issue for Bay Area art lovers. He cited studies that showed that the art audience was vaccinated more often than the general population. (On July 19, the art research firm WolfBrown Approved Data showing 98% of the art audience in the Bay Area are vaccinated, based on 1,870 responses from local polls. It received applause from the start, ”he said. “I think I had a mean tweet the minute we announced it and that was it.”
Junru Wang is one of the cast members in “Dear San Francisco: A High-Flying Love Story,” by Club Fugazi Experiences. Photo: Jon Bauer / Club Fugazi Experiences
A number of San Francisco performing arts organizations, including the San Francisco Opera and ODC / Dance, have already issued guidelines requiring proof of vaccination from both patrons and staff. The San Francisco Symphony has adopted a similar policy and planned to announce it on Monday, August 16, according to an orchestra spokesman.
Likewise, David Dower, co-producer and executive director of Club Fugazi Experiences, a circus scheduled to begin performing in September, said his company is already planning a similar policy for itself. He is relieved that the San Francisco audience isn’t more has to navigate a confusing patchwork of guidelines every time they see a show in a different location.
“I’m actually pretty glad the city said something clear in time for most of our seasons to start,” said Dower. “It is a public health responsibility to protect the public.”
San Francisco Performances, which showcases chamber music concerts in the city’s fall theater, plans to implement the new policy in the coming season starting in October, spokeswoman Nancy Bertossa said.
“I think (the order) is appropriate for the moment we are in,” said Taradash. “Trust me, I’ll be the first in line to see everything. I’m just as much a fan as I am a theater maker and producer. But if we’re not sure right now, our business won’t return any sooner. ”
The Chronicle’s authors, Lily Janiak, Joshua Kosman, and Mick LaSalle contributed to this report.