Stan Powers had bought three tickets for his family to attend the Tampa stop for the Dead & Company tour, the supergroup that includes John Mayer and surviving members of the Grateful Dead. Then he noticed an asterisk next to that Oct. 7 concert on the band’s official site.
That’s because concert promoter Live Nation, which is producing the Dead & Company show that is coming to Tampa’s MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, announced that anyone attending its events will have to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test starting Oct. 4.
Powers, who lives in Daytona Beach, plans to bring his daughter and wife to Tampa for the concert. Now he’s not sure what he will do if they stick to this policy.
“I don’t care for a business telling you what you can and cannot do in reference to your health,” Powers said. “It feels like just another freedom going by the wayside.”
The band’s official tour site says new COVID-19 protocols for the show “will be announced shortly.”
Across the Tampa Bay area, venues that just announced the return of concerts and festivals are struggling with how to do it safely.
American Stage Theater Company is getting ready for its first in-person shows with the comedy The People Downstairs opening Sept. 15 and Around the World in 80 Days opening Oct. 27. This week, the theater company updated its safety protocols, “due to the rise in positive cases of the COVID-19 virus.”
All performances at American Stage will have a reduced capacity audience and everyone from the staff to the audience will be required to wear face masks before, during and after a performance. And you can expect a serious side-eye if you take the mask off once seated.
“The performance will be paused if a patron removes their mask and until they replace it,” American Stage warns on its website.
At East Lake Community Library in Palm Harbor, masks are now required for everyone inside the library. As a result, the Aug. 28 “Slice of Summer” family party has been postponed “due to concerns over the COVID surge,” the library posted on its website.
Changes in COVID-19 protocols are frequent, so the bottom line is to check the venue website or call any location before you plan to visit.
David Jenkins, artistic director of Tampa’s Jobsite Theatre, agrees things have changed again, not long after the venue drew good crowds for its summer production of Shockheaded Peter.
Jenkins said speaking for himself, not Jobsite, that he doesn’t feel safe doing the same things he was comfortable with a month ago.
At the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, spokesman Paul Bilyeu said that so far, “we have not had any requests from artists to mandate proof of vaccination.”
But he added that the Straz masking policy has not changed: “Masks are required for all audience members, staff, students and visitors while inside the Straz Center,” Bilyeu said. “And, of course, all Straz Center employees must be fully vaccinated.”
At Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, spokeswoman Katie Pedretty said so far they haven’t had any issue with artist demands.
“We are finding that every artist has their own protocols that they are comfortable with and usually what they request is already in place at our venue as part of our COVID response,” Pedretty said.
She said the hall sends a “Know Before You Go” email to ticket holders prior to their scheduled event with the most up-to-date information, and they always suggest ticket holders check their website for more information.
Taking a pause just as the industry was ramping up again is deflating, organizers said.
“My friends in the music industry, this is just killing them,” Jenkins said. “So many shows are already canceling in the last couple of weeks in Florida. People are choosing not to make good on their tours into the Southeast, but Florida in general is really bad.”
Times staff writer Jay Cridlin contributed to this report.