By Leah Mize
Tampa’s David A. Straz Center for the Performing Arts is one of many touring locations planning on hosting various Broadway shows for the 2021-2022 season. Starting with Tootsie at the end of October and ending with Pretty Woman in the middle of May 2022.
The rise and rapid spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant has people remasking and worrying about the potential of more lockdowns. The reality of a future that somewhat resembles the world we once knew pre-pandemic is seemingly just out of reach.
The touring companies hold all the power in deciding whether to go through with their touring dates. They can decide not to tour for the safety of their cast and crew members, as many events, concerts, and festivals have been according to an article published on Billboard.com.
They can also have some influence over the types of COVID-19 precautions implemented at venues as well as the extent of the precautions.
“We are doing mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all staff and volunteers, with medical and religious exemptions,” said Liz Montayre, a long-time Straz food and beverage employee. “Everyone, this includes guests, staff, and volunteers, must be masked at all times with some exceptions and we are currently not allowing any food or drink inside the theaters.”
The Straz also recommends that non-vaccinated patrons remain masked outside. Additionally, the theaters will no longer do social distanced seating as has been the case for the past winter and spring.
Previously the Straz Center required guests to wear a face mask at all times, physically distance (at least six feet) from individuals not in their party, pass a temperature check at the door, and fill out a health survey before entering the theater as part of their COVID-19 precautions.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently rolled back their previous statement about masking recommendations as the Delta variant reaches the number of both vaccinated and unvaccinated cases increase.
“I feel a lot better about going places and doing things when I hear about what these businesses are doing to make it safe,” said Juliet Winther, senior sociology major. “It’s good information to know.”
Even though the vaccines are effective against the variant and can reduce the severity of symptoms for those that catch COVID-19, half of Floridians are still unvaccinated.
According to an article published in the Tampa Bay Times, beginning on Oct. 4 the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre is going to require proof that those attending an event or concert is not COVID-19 positive. Vaccinated people will have to show proof of vaccination and unvaccinated people will have to provide a negative test.
“All we can do is try to keep people safe and hope the rest works out,” said Montayre.