The Metropolitan Opera Continues Face Mask Mandates
The New York venue will require audiences to wear face masks indoors and during performances for their 2022/23 concert season
As reported in ABC News, New York’s Metropolitan Opera (Met) recently announced its decision to mandate mask wearing for audiences for their upcoming concert season, but has dropped its vaccination requirements.
The Met was the first major arts institution to mandate vaccinations and booster shots back in December 2021, according to the New York Times. After an 18-month hiatus due to the pandemic, the Met hardly missed a performance — even during the Omicron surge — staging 196 performances without cancellations.
“For us, safety comes before Covid fatigue,” explained the Met’s general manager, Peter Gelb at the time. “So we’re going to err on the side of caution…We want the audience to feel comfortable and safe.”
With their 2022/23 season kicking off on September 27, 2022, the Met is still in no rush to ease its COVID-19 safety measures, and they are not alone. Carnegie Hall is also requiring face masks and has included a COVID-safe checklist on their website.
Similarly, the New York Philharmonic and other organizations part of Lincoln Center are continuing to require face masks indoors at all times and also recommend wearing them for outdoor events. Additionally, audience members are encouraged to have had a primary vaccination dose and subsequent boosters where eligible.
Other organizations implementing mask mandates include the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Opera, and California’s Center Theater Group. In addition to requiring masks, the San Francisco Opera (SFO) is also requesting all patrons aged five and older to show proof of full vaccination along with a matching photo ID.
Additionally, Broadway theaters in New York City have continued to suggest face masks as optional, however, in keeping with NYC and State suggestions, they are still highly recommended.
As well as applying COVID-safe policies, organizations have also had to grapple with the matter of audience numbers while mask mandates and proof of vaccinations are in effect. During their return to the stage, the Met sold 61% of available tickets, which was down from 75% in the 2018/19 pre-pandemic season.
LA Opera’s president, Christopher Koelsch, explained to NY Times that results from surveys that were distributed to concertgoers showed that around a third of audience members would only come to performances if mask mandates were in place, while also roughly a third would refuse to come if masks are required. “No matter what decision you make, there are people who are going to be upset with you and believe that you are making the wrong decision,” Koelsch said.
“At the beginning of [situations arising from COVID-19], many arts organizations were having to develop their own policies before there were clear government guidelines,” SFO general director, Matthew Shilvock said in the NY Times. “As we come out of this, again, you’re finding arts companies having to find their own way.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently revealed that weekly deaths have been at their lowest level since March 2020 — but the coronavirus is still a global emergency, having seen more than a million deaths in the first eight months of this year, the Guardian explained.