Major Sarasota entertainment venues now require COVID vaccine or negative test

·1 min read

As fall theater season kicks off, nine of the leading arts and cultural organizations in Sarasota County — including the Asolo Repertory Theater, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and Sarasota Orchestra — announced they will require proof of a COVID vaccination or a negative COVID test starting Sept. 26.

Yes, but: A Florida law enacted earlier this year bars businesses from requiring proof of vaccination and threatens a $5,000 fine for each violation.

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Why it matters: The law does not address giving patrons an option — proof of vaccination or a negative test — and many arts and entertainment venues are enacting policies that will force a clear interpretation.

  • The policy is similar to those at Tampa’s Straz Center for the Performing Arts and the Dr. Phillips Center in Orlando.

What they’re saying: "The arts and cultural organizations of Sarasota County comprise one of the three largest employment sectors of the community," the group wrote in a statement.

  • "An increasing number of patrons and artists are extremely uncomfortable participating without strong health and safety protocols in place."

By the numbers: Arts leaders said internal surveys show more than 90% of their patrons are already vaccinated.

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