San Jose’s newly-passed vaccination mandate on large events leaves out two groups people: Performers and athletes.
According to the city’s new mandate, attendees and workers at events with 50 or more people at city-owned facilities need to show proof of vaccination—a CDC vaccination card, a photo of the card, a note from a doctor or a QR code from the state’s vaccine record all suffice. The mandate doesn’t apply to privately-owned businesses, though the City Council will consider that at a later date.
The rule is already in effect, but city-owned buildings have a grace period to comply with the new requirement. Starting Sept. 20, SAP Center will require guests 12 and older to show proof of vaccination. The first event to be impacted by the new policy is an Olympic gymnastics exhibition on Sept. 26.
There’s one group left out of the requirement: Performers. The mandate doesn’t include performers or players who are not employed by the organization hosting the event and don’t regularly provide services at the facility.
It was a point Councilmember Pam Foley—whose daughter is a theater performer—brought up at Tuesday’s council meeting.
“In thinking about the Montgomery Theater, I’m thinking about some of the performances there,” Foley said, asking if onstage actors are required to show proof of vaccination.
Lee Wilcox, deputy city manager, responded that “the actual performers are handled differently.”
Foley told San José Spotlight after the meeting that, “Frankly, I feel strongly that everyone who can get vaccinated should get vaccinated.”
The city’s mandate also leaves out athletes at the SAP Center. Since the San Jose Sharks hockey team, the building’s primary tenant, isn’t directly managed by the city-owned facility, the team isn’t subject to the requirement—and neither are any of their opponents.
But that could change in the near future: The National Hockey League issued a memo earlier this month requiring all players and employees to get vaccinated, with limited exceptions for some team workers. The memo still has to be agreed upon by the NHL Players Association, the union that represents the league’s athletes.
San Jose’s largest theater venue, the Center for the Performing Arts, is already ahead of the city’s requirement. Kevin Kopjak, spokesperson for Broadway San Jose which runs shows at the center, confirmed with San José Spotlight that all cast, crew and workers for the upcoming season will be required to get vaccinated. The requirements will begin in October when the center opens its doors for the Broadway tour of the musical “Hamilton.”
David Levy, spokesperson for the Actors’ Equity Association that represents stage actors, said the union’s safety protocols for touring productions requires COVID vaccinations for all who are eligible.
“They also include safety protocols for unvaccinated personnel in the workplace, to protect those such as children and members with medical complications,” he told San José Spotlight. “Workers who are vaccinated will not only protect themselves, but others including those who cannot get the vaccine at this time.”
Cities and theater organizations are taking different approaches for performers. On Broadway in New York City, onstage cast and crew at all 41 privately-owned theaters are required to get the COVID jab to fall in line with attendee requirements. That’s caused some stars to protest.
Just this week, nine Rhode Island theater venues, eight of which are privately-owned, required performers to be vaccinated, while performers at Kansas City’s largest privately-owned theater venue will be required to wear masks only offstage.
San Jose officials are expected to come back at a later date to discuss how the city’s new mandate will be carried out. The city promises to give “sufficient time” for businesses to implement the mandate, including training on how to spot fake vaccination cards.