Vaccine mandates coming for staff, audiences at 2 of Winnipeg's largest performing arts venues

Both the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Centennial Concert Hall announced on Friday that patrons and staff at the venues will need to prove they're fully vaccinated.

Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Centennial Concert Hall among latest to introduce immunization requirements

The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra is shown rehearsing at the Centennial Concert Hall in a 2015 file photo. The Concert Hall announced on Friday that patrons and staff attending events at the venue will need to prove they're fully vaccinated once it reopens to full seating capacity on Sept. 7. (Teghan Beaudette/CBC)

Patrons of several major arts organizations in Winnipeg will have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 when new seasons begin this fall.

The Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre announced on Friday that audience members, staff and volunteers — including ushers — will be required to show proof of full vaccination for its production of Orlando, the first of the upcoming season for the province's largest live theatre company.

That production — which will be the first Royal MTC production for live audiences since March 2020 — opens on the theatre's mainstage with a preview performance on Nov. 24 and runs through Dec. 18.

Details about how vaccination status will be verified and what accommodations will be made for "human rights-based reasons" will be shared in late September, the theatre said in an email to ticket holders.

No decisions have been made yet for future productions, though the theatre's next show isn't scheduled to open until February 2022.

Under Manitoba's current public health orders, attendance at concert halls and theatrical venues is still limited to people who can prove they've been fully vaccinated and children under 12, as long as they're with a relative or someone they live with who is fully vaccinated.

Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre spokesperson Katie Inverarity said more details about the venue's vaccine mandate will be shared in late September. (Grajewski Fotograph Inc./Royal MTC)

Royal MTC spokesperson Katie Inverarity said the theatre's new rules will remain in place even if the province eases its requirements before November.

"People are really seeking answers and clarity concerning COVID and potential mandates and we wanted to be able to offer this clarity for the production of Orlando," she said.

Vaccines required for WSO, RWB audiences at Concert Hall

The Centennial Concert Hall also announced patrons and staff at its events will need to prove they're fully vaccinated once it reopens to its full 2,305-seat capacity on Sept. 7.

Audience members will need to show proof of immunization and photo identification as they enter, the venue said in a news release.

Children who aren't old enough to get vaccinated can still go, but they need to be with a fully vaccinated caregiver, the release said.

The 2,305-seat Centennial Concert Hall is also the primary venue for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, which is scheduled to open its new season in October. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

The concert hall is the primary venue for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, and the vaccine requirement will apply to their audiences.

Ballet spokesperson Jo Magnifico said the concert hall's announcement brings the RWB "one step closer to our long-awaited return to the stage and to our audiences." Its season begins in October.

Magnifico said the organization is working on its own vaccine mandate for the company and its ballet school, which would apply outside the concert hall.

"The protection of our artists, our staff, our patrons, that remains the heart of our decisions. We're committed to a safe return to the stage," she said.

"And we definitely appreciate everyone's enduring co-operation and understanding as we look forward to welcoming back all of our passionate fans."

WSO spokesperson Claudia Garcia de la Huerta said the orchestra, which is also scheduled to begin its new season in October, "couldn't be more pleased" about the concert hall's new mandate.

"We're thrilled that everybody's on board and on the same page," Garcia de la Huerta said.

"The health and the safety of our audiences, the artists on the stage and our staff really is top priority, and it's always been throughout this whole pandemic. So we will continue to do whatever is necessary to keep everyone safe."

Earlier Friday, Manitoba reported it had reached its final vaccine milestone of having 75 per cent of those eligible fully immunized against COVID-19.

With files from Caitlyn Gowriluk


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