With the rapid spread of the omicron variant, entertainment venues and performing arts organizations in Oklahoma City are improvising through another leg of the nearly two-year COVID-19 saga.
Decisions to postpone, cancel or continue shows vary between venues, broadcasters and live entertainment producers. But OKC fans see no sequel to the full shutdowns in the early days of 2020 from the pandemic.
Since the shows are on, here are eight tips for attending a live show during these omicron days:
1. Know the COVID-19 protocols and plan accordingly.
COVID-19 protocols differ between venues, organizations and even artists. Those who require proof of vaccination can only accept a hard copy of a person’s card, or they can accept a physical card, a photo of the card, or a digital vaccination record. Some also require photo ID.
Sites often accept proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test, with 72 hours being the most common window, in lieu of proof of vaccination. But some only take PCR test results, while others take PCR or rapid test results but not home test results.
Even with the current COVID-19 testing shortages, the onus is on ticket holders to follow the rules. So know the requirements when you buy your tickets and plan ahead how to meet them.
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2. Keep your mask handy.
As with vaccine requirements, mask rules can vary widely from venue to venue and even show to show.
“We don’t require masks, although… some tours are going to require masks – and we’re going to enforce that,” said Stephen Tyler, managing partner of Tower Theater and Ponyboy.
Although some places offer free masks, supplies may be limited. It’s best to keep a mask handy – and make sure he’s the one who will pass the gathering. Not only do many doctors recommend upgrading your mask in response to omicron, but some places also prohibit customers from using neck warmers, scarves, or bandanas as masks.
3. Calculate your tickets in advance.
With the pandemic, many venues have opted to skip the long all-you-can-eat lines and switch to paperless ticketing.
This means that customers may need to download their tickets to their mobile phone, access them via an app or, if they don’t have a smartphone, print them out at home.
Regardless of the paperless route, taking care of your tickets in advance will make it easier to get to the show.
4. Arrive early.
Getting to a show early is always a good idea, and with new ticketing systems, vaccination card checks, and regular security measures, it’s even better during the pandemic.
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5. Check before you hit the road.
Especially with the highly contagious omicron variant, shows may have to be canceled or postponed at the last minute if cast or crew members test positive for COVID-19.
It’s best to check your email, as well as the artist’s location and social media, to make sure the event is still going before you go, especially if you’re traveling a long distance.
6. Communicate if you have a problem.
If you have a health condition that makes it problematic to attend a show you’ve already purchased tickets for during the omicron wave, contact the venue or organization hosting the event to discuss it.
“Our ticketing policy, in general, always remains flexible,” said OKC Broadway General Manager Elizabeth Gray. “We have several options, so we always encourage customers to contact the box office – or if you are a subscriber, contact the box office – to discuss these options.”
If you have been exposed, show symptoms, or have reason to believe you have COVID-19, contact the box office and skip the show.
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7. Minimize your risks.
People’s tolerance for risk can vary as much as their medical risk factors.
If you want to attend a performance, there are ways to minimize your risk of coronavirus infection, including getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, washing and sanitizing your hands often, practicing social distancing , avoiding long lines and crowded spaces when possible, and choosing outdoor events or indoor facilities that have taken steps to improve their air quality.
8. Enjoy the show.
Some OKC organizations have been holding their first in-person shows since fall 2019, while others have been back on stage since late spring 2020.
Either way, the pandemic initially suppressed all in-person entertainment – and it’s a good reminder not to take for granted the unique pleasure of gathering and sharing a live event together.
So even if some procedures are different, enjoy the show.