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COVID forces performance arts group to adjust protocols

Following months of preparation and planning for the return of in-person programming, The Arts Partnership has updated its policies due to recent surge of COVID-19.

ST PAUL, Minn. — The Ordway Center for Performing Arts already requires masks, vaccinations or a negative COVID-19 test, but next month, they're taking it a step further.

"If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that we have to remain flexible and agile," said President and CEO, Chris Harrington.

He says the venue already has strict requirement, but starting Feb. 1, "we will be requiring a booster, but if someone doesn't have access to a booster or chose not to get it, they will be able to provide a negative test taken within 72 hours," he said.

It's in collaboration with The Arts Partnership consisting of the Minnesota Opera, the Ordway, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Schubert Club. The updated protocols reflect a surge in COVID 19 cases.

"We have actors, singers, musicians who are blowing into wind instruments, and dancers who are all breathing deeply, and again we have that responsibility to all of our stakeholders to create the safest environment for all," he said.

Guests can also expect an updated mask policy. Non-cloth masks such as N95's or surgical masks will only be allowed. Harrington says there's a reason the booster requirement starts next month.

"Wanted to provide ample time for our patrons to make the best decisions for them," said Harrington.

COVID-19 concerns forced other Twin Cities venues to adapt. Most recently, the Guthrie theatre postponed "A Raisin in the Sun," and "Come From Away" playing at the Orpheum theatre in Minneapolis was forced to cancel two shows last week.

Despite COVID 19 setbacks, Harrington says "the show must go on." "We have a show happening this week, "An Officer and a Gentleman," he said. "We'll evaluate and adjust our health and safety protocols accordingly."

The venue says they will provide surgical masks for those who don't have it. Performance arts centers and theaters are asking those guests who may feel sick or who were exposed to COVID-19 to stay home.

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