AEG Presents announced Thursday that all of its owned and operated venues, clubs, theatres, and festivals will require customers to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 for entry. The policy will go into effect on October 1, with an interim policy requiring that customers show proof of either full vaccination, or a recent negative COVID test or entry.
“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 are also 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’s announcement of this new policy was just a few days trailing of a similar policy announced by Live Nation Entertainment. However, the AEG policy goes a step further – Live Nation’s policy allows individual artists or venues to make the call regarding its vaccination or testing requirements, rather than being applied across the board as AEG is doing.
The only exceptions to the policy are in areas where local law prohibits such requirements, as well as for children under age 12, for whom a negative test within 72 hours of event time is needed. There is also a window for “medical and religious exemptions” in the policy, which must be worked out with the specific venue or festival prior to an event.
“Certain states’ regulations may override our mandate, or a few artists may not want to immediately get on board with the plan, but we know that using our platform to take a strong position on vaccinations can make an impact,” says Shawn Trell, COO and General Counsel of AEG Presents. “The message we want to send is simple and clear: The only way to be as safe as possible is to require everyone to be vaccinated. And we’re confident that others who haven’t been ready to make this full committment yet will follow our lead.”
There is no specific end date mentioned for this policy, which will be around as long as deemed wise given the public health data regarding COVID. The reason for the long timeline for implementation is to allow for those who are not yet fully vaccinated to do so prior to the rules being in place.
The ongoing rise in cases in the United States attributed to the “Delta” variant has been a cause for concern for the return of live events in recent weeks. Already, some events have been cancelled due to performers or their touring groups seeing cases within their organizations, or simply out of concern for the possibility of significant transmission of the virus among large crowds, even outdoors. Garth Brooks indicated he was wavering on fall tour dates already scheduled, while the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival was cancelled for the second straight year in recent days. Broadway also announced a similar vaccination policy for its reopening.
Those hoping to attend an AEG Presents event must bring with them a physical copy of a COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, a digital copy, or “such other proof as is permitted locally,” according to the FAQs on the policy. That same section also makes clear how firm the policy is expected to be.
“What if I forget my proof of vaccination?”
“You won’t get in. So please don’t.”