When the new PromoWest Pavilion at OVATION in Newport opens for its first concert Aug. 29 — featuring Kesha — you'll need to come prepared with more than a little face glitter.
AEG Presents, OVATION's parent company, is now requiring all concertgoers to provide either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of an event for entry.
Then, starting Oct. 1, all attendees must prove their full vaccination status to attend a show.
"The decision comes on the heels of the dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases as the Delta variant spreads throughout the United States," AEG says in a release.
By delaying the full vaccination policy until Oct. 1, the company says that there is time for "any eligible unvaccinated ticketholders and staff to reach fully vaccinated status should they choose to do so."
“We have come to the conclusion that, as a market leader, it was up to us to take a real stand on vaccination status,” says Jay Marciano, COO of AEG and chairman and CEO of AEG Presents. “Just a few weeks ago, we were optimistic about where our business, and country, were heading. The Delta variant, combined with vaccine hesitancy, is pushing us in the wrong direction again. We realize that some people might look at this as a dramatic step, but it’s the right one. We also are aware that there might be some initial pushback, but I’m confident and hopeful that, at the end of the day, we will be on the right side of history and doing what’s best for artists, fans, and live event workers.”
AEG Presents also oversees venues such as New York’s Webster Hall, the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles, Coachella Music & Arts Festival and The Agora in nearby Cleveland.
"I think everyone can agree that we don’t want concerts to go away again, and this is the best way to keep that from happening,” Marciano says.
OVATION will accept a physical copy of your COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card or a digital copy (or other alternatives as accepted by the state). Those under the age of 12 who are not eligible for a vaccine will need to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of an event. And those who have medical or religious exemptions can contact OVATION directly for requirements.
Since masks are no longer mandated in Ohio or Kentucky, they are not required for entry but are strongly encouraged.
If you opt not to get vaccinated to enter the venue, OVATION says limited refund details will be online, "guided by local regulations," closer to that October date.
According to recent numbers, the Delta variant of the coronavirus is rampaging through Ohio, with the state reporting 3,272 new cases on Wednesday alone.
Perhaps more alarmingly, the number of cases per 100,000 Ohioans is approaching 200, after being just under 18 on July 7. That’s more than an 11-fold increase in just five weeks.
In Kentucky, where Gov. Andy Beshear just instituted a Commonwealth-wide school masking mandate, there has been recent exponential growth in statewide COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and ICU admissions.
"Without intervention, at the rate we are currently at, we expect to have the most Kentuckians hospitalized due to COVID in two weeks than we have had at any time during this pandemic," Beshear said during an Aug. 10 briefing.
Kentucky's COVID-19 positivity rate has risen to 11.05%, the highest the state has seen since January (the positivity rate is the number of people who test positive out of all coronavirus tests performed). It was 9.77% on Aug. 2 and 1.79% in June.
The Delta variant of the coronavirus largely has been responsible for the sharp uptick in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, and scientists warn that this strain is much more dangerous than the original virus. People infected with Delta carry 1,000 times more of the virus, which makes it easier to transmit among others when speaking, singing, sneezing or breathing hard, particularly within indoor areas. Health experts say that Delta is more than twice as easy to spread as the first strain.
Unvaccinated individuals are at the highest risk for severe infection and substantial health issues from coronavirus, experts say, though some vaccinated individuals have also become infected due to Delta's highly contagious nature. Symptoms and rates are less severe in individuals who are fully vaccinated with a Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine, though. According to the CDC, a “fully vaccinated” person is one who is two weeks past their second dose of a two-dose vaccine (Pfizer and Moderna) or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine (J&J).
Health officials have long said that a combination of vaccinations and masking will help slow the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus. In July, the CDC recommended that both unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals wear face masks, especially indoors and in regions of great virus transmission or low vaccination. But as vaccinations have plateaued and Ohio and Kentucky rescinded their coronavirus safety protocols in early June, the region's COVID-19 cases have increased.
Allison Babka and Marty Schladen contributed to this report.
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