Have tickets to a show in Tampa Bay? Better check COVID requirements.

There’s no sign of ticket sales for concerts and events slowing despite the delta variant’s hold on Florida. Audiences are ready to venture out, but what should they expect when headed to a show in Tampa Bay?

© Jay Cridlin/Tampa Bay Times Servers in face masks served drinks and food as Greg Billings played the first socially distanced concert at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater in June of 2020. Masks are strongly encouraged for patrons, but not required.

Ticketmaster this week reported that sales in June were the fourth-best in the history of the company. Venues in Tampa Bay, including Ruth Eckerd Hall and the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa have seen a number of sold-out shows in recent weeks.

“People seem to be feeling that COVID is not going anywhere, so how do we live with it?” said Summer Bohnenkamp, vice president of marketing and programming at the Straz Center. “We still want to have art and music in our lives and we have to figure out how to make that work.”

Here’s what to expect at local performance halls, which have imposed policies that range from proof of a vaccine or negative coronavirus test to mask rules. Be mindful that protocols often change, so be sure to check a venue’s website or Facebook page for updates.

Straz Center for the Performing Arts

Starting Saturday, one of Tampa’s largest performing arts venues will require either proof of vaccination or a negative test result within 72 hours before show time. Adding the option of a negative test allows event organizers to get around the Florida law that says businesses can’t require customers to show proof of vaccination. Here’s how the Straz will enforce its policies:

  • Similar to a bag check, patrons will be asked to either show their vaccine card or a picture of it on their phone before entering. They can also show an email, picture or printout of a negative COVID-19 test.
  • For the test option, a negative PCR test is required within 72 hours or a negative rapid antigen test administered no earlier than 24 hours prior to the performance. Home testing kits are not accepted.
  • All guests and staff are required to wear masks indoors.
  • Straz policies can be found at strazcenter.org/safety. There is also a list of frequently asked questions at strazcenter.org/Plan-Your-Visit.

Ruth Eckerd Hall

The Clearwater performing arts center does not require vaccine cards or tests. The staff wears face masks at all times. “We strongly encourage guests to wear masks, but it remains optional for those fully vaccinated,” said spokeswoman Katie Pedretty. The Florida Orchestra, which has a Masterworks show there Sept. 26, requires masks for all patrons at its shows, regardless of vaccination status. The hall’s coronavirus guidelines can be found at rutheckerdhall.com/safety-guidelines.

MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

Concert promoter Live Nation’s shows at the outdoor amphitheater at the Florida State Fairgrounds will have more stringent rules starting Oct. 4. All of its employees will be vaccinated and concert-goers will have to bring printed proof of vaccination or a negative test result. How it will be enforced:

  • Bring a printed copy of test results or vaccination proof. Test results must be dated and time-stamped. At-home test results will only be accepted if there is a link to results you can print from a medical platform.
  • Though Live Nation’s rules say a negative test has be less than 72 hours old, some Live Nation artists have added an extra layer. For his sold-out Oct. 10 show, pop star Harry Styles will require face masks, and negative coronavirus tests must be administered within 48 hours of the show. And at Maroon 5′s Sept. 24 show, fans have to provide printed proof of vaccination or a negative test taken within 48 hours of the show.
  • To reduce staff contact with guest belongings, only clear plastic tote bags or small clutch bags no longer than 6 inches are allowed.
  • See updates on the amphitheater’s policies at midflorida.com/events.

© DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD/Times Starting Saturday, patrons at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa will have to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine or a negative test result taken within the last 72 hours to see a show.

American Stage

The St. Petersburg theater company has returned to in-person shows, with limits. All performances have a reduced-capacity audience and the audience is required to wear face masks before, during and after a performance. “The performance will be paused if a patron removes their mask and until they replace it,” American Stage warns on its website. You can find its health and safety protocols at americanstage.org/health.

Mahaffey Theater

Valet parking is on hold at the St. Petersburg concert hall. Contactless payments are available and plastic shields are in place at all bar locations. Mahaffey encourages guests to wear masks, but they are not required. Note that the Florida Orchestra, which has its first Masterworks show there Sept. 25, requires masks for all patrons at its shows, regardless of vaccination status. You can find updates for the Mahaffey’s health and safety guidelines at themahaffey.com/about/healthandsafety.

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