New York Metropolitan Opera to Require COVID-19 Boosters
The Metropolitan Opera in New York has become the first major performing arts organization in the U.S. to require COVID-19 booster shots from all performers, employees, and audience members.
The mandate is set to go into effect Jan. 17 and requires anyone eligible for a COVID-19 booster to have received one in order to enter the opera house.
"We want everyone who enters our opera house to feel safe," Met General Manager Peter Gelb said in a news release announcing the requirement on Wednesday. "I'm confident that our employees know this action is in their best interests and that our audiences will be in agreement, too."
The Met Opera's booster mandate comes as COVID-19 cases are rising sharply across New York City — driven by the delta and omicron variants of the virus — and as performing arts organizations around the world are being forced to cancel shows because of coronavirus outbreaks.
On Broadway, "Hamilton," "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child," "Tina," and "Mrs. Doubtfire" have had to cancel performances because of COVID outbreaks backstage, The Associated Press reported. Meanwhile in London, a "Cabaret" revival had to shut its doors, and in Paris Opéra Bastille had to cancel a performance of the ballet "Don Quixote."
In line with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Met is requiring people vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson vaccines to receive booster shots two months after their initial vaccination. It is requiring those vaccinated with Pfizer and Moderna, to receive boosters six months after their second dose.
The CDC has yet to release guidelines for recipients of AstraZeneca vaccines, but the Met said it will adjust its booster policy when those guidelines are released.
The Met Opera closed due to the pandemic for 18 months but since its reopening, it hasn't had to cancel a single performance. Since its September reopening, the Met has presented 59 performances of nine different operas with more than 160,000 guests in the audience.
"We worked hard to reopen in September, and we're certainly not giving up now," Gelb said.
New York City's COVID-19 positivity rate has been steadily increasing in December and the seven-day average is now above 5%. Hospitalizations also have been increasing across the city though deaths have not. And while most cases are among unvaccinated people, breakthrough infections among vaccinated people also are being detected.