Art Theatre to require patrons show proof of vaccination

Effective Sept. 13, the Art Theatre of Long Beach will require its patrons to show proof of vaccination to enter its establishment.

The decision was not made lightly and was discussed by the theater’s board members for weeks, Art Theatre board chairman Jan van Djis said. But in light of rising positive cases of COVID-19 spurred by the delta variant, a more contagious strain of the virus, the theater board went ahead with the mandate.

The decision was finalized Monday.

“There’s no question that we understand that there could be trouble ahead,” van Djis said of the public’s reception of the new mandate. “As a public institution people will view this in all different lenses, but there’s only one lens for us, which is we want to keep our patrons and our employees safe.”

In the next few days, Van Djis said the theater will be updating its website and electronic payment system to include a checkbox patrons will have to select acknowledging they are fully vaccinated and will need to show proof to enter the building.

Both paper and electronic forms will be accepted and checked at the door, though paper copies could be rejected in the future should their validity come into question van Djis said.

“I think we’ll just have to see how that goes,” he said.

Patrons who purchase tickets at the door will be turned away unless able to provide proof of their vaccination.

Those who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine will need to show proof that they have received two doses. Johnson & Johnson is a single-dose vaccine.

Currently, Long Beach and Los Angeles County require that people wear masks while indoors regardless of vaccination status. By additionally requiring proof of vaccination, van Djis said the theater will be able to confidently fill all 380 of its seats without having to stagger seating, as other theater and performing arts groups are currently doing in lieu of requiring attendees full vaccination status.

The theater implements a number of other health and safety protocols, including deep cleaning and sanitation between shows, plexiglass at the concession area, contact-less payment systems and hand-sanitizer available at key locations in the theater. A new air filtration system was also installed during the forced closure to improve airflow.

Van Djis said they anticipate some loss of customers due to the new mandate, but believe most patrons who visit the theater are already vaccinated and will appreciate the added security of requiring full vaccination.

“This is what we believe to be a safer environment,” van Djis said. “We do feel there’s a sense of responsibility with any public institution to really evaluate how they can achieve that.”

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Cheantay Jensen is reporter and award-winning videographer who covers entertainment, art, food and culture for the Hi-lo section of the Long Beach Post. And sometimes breaking news, you know, just to keep things interesting.