With the fast-spreading omicron variant surging, Oklahoma City entertainment venues and performing arts organizations are improvising through another stage of the almost two-year COVID-19 saga.
Decisions on whether to postpone, cancel or carry on with shows vary among venues, presenters and producers of live entertainment. But OKC fans aren't seeing a sequel to the total shutdowns of the early 2020 days of the pandemic.
Since the shows are going on, here are eight tips for attending a live performance during these omicron days:
1. Know the COVID-19 protocols and plan accordingly.
COVID-19 protocols differ among venues, organizations and even performers. Those that require proof of vaccination may only accept a hard copy of a person's card, or they may accept a physical card, a photo of the card or a digital vaccination record. Some require photo ID, too.
Venues often accept proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test, with 72 hours being the most common window, instead 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 ticketholders to adhere to the rules. So, know the requirements when you buy your tickets and plan ahead for how to meet them.
2. Keep your mask handy.
As with vaccine requirements, mask rules can vary widely from venue to venue and even show to show.
"We're not requiring masks, although ... some tours are going to require masks — and we're going to enforce that," said Stephen Tyler, managing partner for the Tower Theatre and Ponyboy.
Although some places offer complimentary masks, supplies can be limited. It's best to keep a mask handy — and make sure it's one that will pass muster. Not only do many doctors recommend upgrading your mask in response to omicron, but some venues also prohibit patrons from using neck gaiters, scarves or bandanas as masks.
3. Figure out your tickets in advance.
With the pandemic, many venues have opted to skip the long lines at will call and switch to paperless ticketing.
That means patrons may need to download their tickets to their cellphones, access them via an app or, if they don't have a smartphone, print them out at home.
Whatever the paperless route, taking care of your tickets in advance will make getting into the show less of a hassle.
4. Arrive early.
Arriving early to a show is always a good idea, and with new ticketing systems, vaccination card checks and the usual security measures, it's an even better idea during the pandemic.
5. Double-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 double-check your email, along with the venue and artist's social media, for updates to make sure the event is still on before you head out, particularly if you're traveling some distance.
6. Communicate if you have a problem.
If you have a health issue that makes attending a show you've already bought tickets to problematic during the omicron surge, contact the venue or the organization putting on the event to talk about it.
"Our ticketing policy, in general, still remains flexible," OKC Broadway General Manager Elizabeth Gray said. "We have multiple options. So, we always encourage patrons to reach out to the box office — or if you're a subscriber, reach out to the season ticket office — to discuss those options."
If you've been exposed to, are experiencing symptoms of or have reason to believe you have COVID-19, contact the ticket 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 go to a show, there are ways to minimize the risks 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 measures to improve their air quality.
8. Enjoy the show.
Some OKC organizations are putting on their first in-person shows since autumn 2019, while others have been back on stage since late spring 2020.
Either way, the pandemic initially took away all in-person entertainment — and that's a good reminder not to take for granted the unique pleasure of gathering for and sharing in a live event together.
So, even if some of the procedures are different, enjoy the show.
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: 8 tips for attending live shows in OKC during the COVID-19 pandemic