Taking a cue from Broadway, Northport’s John W. Engeman Theater is the first Long Island theater to announce that patrons ages 12 and older will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination upon entry. The theater issued the news Tuesday night, adding that ticket holders are also being asked to wear masks inside the venue.
“Please understand these measures are in place for the safety and health of our patrons, employees and our community as a whole. We hope to continue providing beautiful memories and productions for as long as possible and these protocols will help us to do so,” said the theater owners in a statement.
Audience members younger than 12 must be accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult and will need to be masked. Fully vaccinated adults must have had their final dose at least 14 days before the performance date.
Following suit on Wednesday, Gateway Playhouse in Bellport announced that it will begin asking guests to provide proof of vaccination and don masks beginning Aug. 17. “We know there might be some kickback, but it’s for the good of the community,” said Scot Allan, Gateway’s director of development and public relations.
The news follows Friday’s announcement from the Broadway League that all 41 Broadway theaters will be asking for proof of vaccination and enforce masking for anyone who attends a performance through Oct. 31. The new mandates came in response to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases and the spread of the delta variant.
It’s likely that other Long Island theaters will take similar measures in the near future. The board of directors at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson, which currently requires masking only for those who are not vaccinated, is expected to issue new protocols in the next seven days, said executive artistic director Jeffrey Sanzel.
“We have no doubt that we will be making adjustments for the current situation,” he said.