Met Opera to force stimulus packages for staff and public

Opera music


The Metropolitan Opera announced on Wednesday that it will require all adult employees and eligible members of the public to receive Covid booster injections to enter the opera house, making its security measures stricter than those on Broadway or other places.

The Met is the first major performing arts organization in the city to announce a recall mandate that will apply to the public as well as staff members; the new rule will take effect on January 17. The policy was announced amid concern over the increase in the number of cases and the spread of the Omicron variant: The average daily number of coronavirus cases in the city has more than doubled in the past two weeks.

“We think we should lead by example,” said Peter Gelb, chief executive of the Met, in an interview. “I hope that we will also have an influence on other performing arts companies. I think it’s only a matter of time – everyone will do it.

This is not the first time that performing arts organizations, eager to reassure the public that it is safe to visit theaters, have imposed virus prevention measures that go beyond mandates. government. When Broadway theaters announced over the summer that they would demand that the public be vaccinated and masked, it was several days before Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City would impose a mandate of vaccination for a variety of indoor spaces, including performance venues.

Since the Met reopened after losing more than a full season to the pandemic, it has demanded that staff and customers be fully vaccinated to enter the opera house. But Gelb said it had become “obvious” to him that even stronger guarantees were now needed.

“It is of paramount importance that members of the public and employees feel safe when entering the building”, he said. “For me there is no doubt this is the right decision.”

Since November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended booster shots – either six months after people received a second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two months after a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

When the new Met rules come into effect on January 17, those eligible for the booster shots will need to have them to enter the opera house. (There will be a short grace period: People will be allowed to enter without a boost if performance falls within two weeks of the date they become eligible for boosters. People who are not yet eligible for their boosters will be still allowed in.) opera house, people will be required to wear face masks except when eating or drinking in the limited areas where it is permitted.

Met officials said they discussed their new policy with leaders of the various unions that represent its workers ahead of Wednesday’s announcement and called the unions’ response to the rules “very positive.”

Len Egert, the national executive director of the American Guild of Musical Artists, said union officials determined that at the Met, “recalls are warranted,” and subsequently negotiated to ensure that its limbs were protected.

Adam Krauthamer, president of Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians, said his union “applauds the Met’s plan to make vaccine recalls mandatory” and called the move a “necessary step forward to ensure safety audience and keep NYC as a beacon of live performance.

It was not immediately clear whether other arts institutions would follow the Met. Gelb said he had informed executives at Carnegie Hall, the New York Philharmonic and Lincoln Center that the Met would soon be adding a recall warrant.

Carnegie Hall spokesperson Synneve Carlino said late Wednesday afternoon that officials there “were currently reviewing boosters, but had yet to put new requirements in place.” The New York Philharmonic and Lincoln Center did not immediately say whether they would change their Covid policies.

The announcement that the Met would adopt stricter Covid protocols came a day after a performance of the ballet “Don Quixote” was canceled at the Opéra Bastille in Paris because officials said a member of the company tested positive for the virus. Several Broadway shows have recently had to cancel performances due to positive Covid tests among the cast and crew. And in the National Football League, 37 players tested positive on Monday, the highest single-day total since the start of the pandemic.

Gelb said he believed the Met was the first performing arts institution to implement a recall mandate, but noted that some colleges and universities seem to have already taken this step. He said he expected Met employees and the public to support the new rule, and said he suspected most of them had already received their booster shots if they were eligible. . “I think it will be a relief,” he said.

The Met said in a press release that since reopening in late September, it has presented 59 performances of nine different operas to a collective audience of around 160,000 people.

He has yet to cancel any performances due to the virus.

“With so many people entering and exiting the building, we need to make sure everyone is as safe as possible,” Gelb said. “Everyone in the company wants to feel safe and healthy. “