The press release dropped at end-of-business yesterday from the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Quoting it directly: “Mandatory face coverings for performances and guest documentation showing a recent negative COVID-19 test will be required for all patrons attending ticketed performances. As an alternative to a negative test result, patrons are given the option to provide documentation showing full vaccination status.”
The new policy will begin with the Sept. 22 performance of Firefall, Pure Prairie League and Orleans at the newly renovated Parker. Proof of a negative COVID-19 test administered over the past 72 hours must be presented to enter. Or, for vaccinated folks, all you need is proof of full vaccination dating back at least 14 days, and you’re good to go.
Let us be clear about what this solution: a work-around. A loophole. Florida was one of the first states to ban so-called vaccine passports, so the Broward Center cannot legally require vaccination of its patrons. But there’s nothing to prevent it from requiring a negative COVID test.
So if the unvaxxed want to attend, life is going to be more inconvenient for them to do so. For the immunized who, if they’ve visited places like New York and California are already accustomed to “showing their papers,” entry is a breeze.
This decision, which likely came after rigorous debate from the Broward Center’s board, is fairly ingenious. It will rankle conspiracists hectoring about the Great Reset and the treatment of the unvaccinated as a second-class citizenry, but it’s consistent with principles of personal choice as a small business.
Moreover, unlike a more hardline approach favored by other states and institutions—no vax, no attendance—this is Broward Center’s way of keeping its concerts open to everyone who is willing to jump through its hoops for the benefit of public health. The Center’s largely vaxxed audience constituency would likely approve of a more stringent policy; to them, this may very well be a compromise, but you cannot please everyone.
Now, the question is: Will other cultural arts venues follow suit, now that Broward Center has established a paradigm? I suspect so, with respect to performing arts, if not movie theaters; as a mass medium, the movies attract a broader swath of the populace, and such restrictive policies would likely hurt, more than help, their bottom line. Every venue will have to run its own cost-benefit analysis. This is clearly the right one for the Broward Center.