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Masks, vaccine cards and more

Theater patrons attend Florida Rep in October for the show
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NOTE: This article has been updated with new COVID protocols for Naples’ TheatreZone and Fort Myers’ Lab Theater.

Wear a mask. Don’t wear a mask.

Make sure you socially distance. Sit as close together as you want.

Bring a negative COVID test or a vaccination card. Never mind, don’t worry about it.

The COVID rules are all over the place at Southwest Florida theaters, concert halls and other entertainment venues.

That’s left some entertainment lovers confused and unsure of what to do, where to go and which places are safer for the unvaccinated.

Should you leave your mask in the car? How closely will people be packed inside the venue? Are there any other safety measures?

Adding to the confusion: Many places don’t publicize their COVID rules — if they have any — on their websites and social media pages. Or they haven’t updated them in a while.

Florida investigation: State investigating Fort Myers, Naples businesses over vaccine passport law

Recently:Florida Rep drops COVID test, vaccine policy. Artis—Naples protocols unchanged

More:Mann Hall eases COVID rules: Masks now optional for most shows at Fort Myers venue

Meanwhile, venues are caught between two very different sets of audiences: People who worry about social distancing, masks and COVID tests; and people who don’t care about any of that and often pack local clubs and venues without a mask in sight.

“It’s been extremely difficult to navigate, and we are caught between a rock and a hard place,” says Melissa Vogt, general manager for Broadway Palm dinner theater in Fort Myers.

“We want to please our customers, and we are truly listening to their wants and needs. But we also want to ensure we’re making safe decisions that aren’t jeopardizing their health or the health of our actors and employees.”

Theater patrons arrive at Florida Rep in October for the show

Other venues have taken a much more hands-off approach.

Tommy Lee Cook, owner of Buckingham Blues Bar, sees it as a matter of personal choice and freedom. People can do whatever they want.

“We have no rules,” Cook says. “We cherish freedom and their right to choose what suits them, whether visiting us or not. It’s their option/choice.”

As entertainment season ramps up in Southwest Florida, we decided to look into the confusing patchwork of rules and COVID protocols at local venues. We reached out to top theaters, concert halls and other places to see what they had to say.

Here’s our guide to masks, negative COVID tests and other pandemic rules at venues from Fort Myers and Cape Coral to Naples and Marco Island. Keep in mind: Venues could announce new changes later in the season or if pandemic conditions change.

Theater patrons attend Florida Rep in October for the show


Masks: Required for everyone inside the Alliance building. Not required for outdoor events.

Social distancing: An open seat is left between parties in the theater after they make reservations. Class sizes are limited to allow for social distancing.

COVID test/vaccination card: Not required for anyone.

Other protocols: Rigorous cleaning. Hand sanitizers. Air-purification system that uses ionization and UV light. Limited product handling and no sampling for the GreenMarket.

Info: 939-2787 or 


Masks: Strongly encouraged for ages over 12, required for ages 2-12. Required of all for the touring Broadway productions of “Come From Away” and “Tootsie.” Masking protocols for other Broadway shows will be announced beforehand if required; customers will be notified via email.

Social distancing: Operating at full capacity.

COVID tests/vaccinations: Proof of a professionally administered COVID test, with a negative reading that meets Artis—Naples specifications and is completed within a prescribed time window, required. See the Artis—Naples website for specifications and time windows. Alternatively, vaccination cards showing full vaccination (requiring two injections for Moderna and Pfizer vaccines), completed at least 14 days before the event, may be offered. Photo ID must accompany all documentation. 

Other protocols: Needlepoint bipolar ionization system installed on the venue’s 29 HVAC air-handling units to filter the air. Surfaces treated with an antimicrobial coating, including restrooms, door handles and patron seating. Air-assisted misting machines sanitize Hayes Hall and Daniels Pavilion between performances.

More information: 597-1900 or

Read more: Artis—Naples has a new COVID policy. Here’s what it means


Masks: Not required except for specific shows (all touring musicals, for example, will mandate masks for audience members).

Social distancing: Full capacity.

COVID test/vaccination card: Not required for audiences at most shows. All staff and ushers must be fully vaccinated, with no exemptions.

Other protocols: MERV 13 filters and UV disinfecting lights in the air handlers. Electrostatic sprayers used to disinfect throughout the hall. More than 25 wall-mounted and freestanding hand sanitizing stations. Plexiglass barriers at concessions and patron services. 

All these protocols, however, could change depending on the performers and their own rules, says general manager Scott Saxon. “It is important to note that each show has their own COVID safety protocols, which may differ from ours.” Customers will be updated about any changes via email and the hall’s website, he added.

Info: 481-4849 or

Read more: Mann Hall eases COVID rules: Masks now optional for most shows at Fort Myers venue

Theater patrons arrive at Florida Rep in October for the show


Masks: Strongly encouraged for customers, but not required unless they’re unvaccinated. Proof of vaccination isn’t required, says general manager Melissa Vogt, “but we ask that customers be respectful and responsible.” All employees must wear masks.

Social distancing: Operating at 75 percent capacity with audiences encouraged to social distance when moving around the building. Audiences sit at shared tables, but a new seating chart offers more two- and four-seat tables for smaller parties.

COVID test/vaccination card: Not required for customers. Full vaccination required for all employees (with exemptions for religious or medical reasons).

Other protocols: A staff COVID safety officer monitors the situation and recommends necessary changes. New cleaning and sanitizing procedures. More hand sanitizer stations. UV lights used before and after performances to help kill viruses and bacteria in the air and on surfaces. Entire building treated with an antimicrobial surface coating designed to kill 99.99 percent viruses, bacteria and other harmful microbes. Bipolar ionization system installed in air conditioning units to help filter out viruses, large breath droplets and more from the air.

Info: 278-4422 or


Masks: Required for visitors and employees.

Social distancing: Full capacity.

COVID test/vaccination card: Not required for customers. Employees and volunteers, however, must be vaccinated.

Other protocols: Increased cleaning and sanitization procedures. Sanitizer stations. New HVAC air filtration system.

Info: 395-0900 or


Masks: Not required for anyone.

Social distancing: Full capacity.

COVID test/vaccination card: Not required for anyone.

Other protocols: None (although many shows are held outside).

Info: 693-7111 or

Bernardo Santana as Bernard and Erica Jones as Gabriella  play a scene in Naples Players' production of Boeing Boeing at Sugden Community Theatre on Monday, September 27, 2021.


Masks: Not required for customers or employees (except for kitchen staff).

Social distancing: Full capacity.

COVID test/vaccination card: Not required. All employees are vaccinated, however, by their own choice, says owner Ozzie Morrobel.

Other protocols: Daily cleaning and sanitizing. Hand sanitizers in several areas.

Info: 246-1246 or


Masks: Not required for anyone.

Social distancing: Full capacity.

COVID test/vaccination card: Not required for anyone.

Other protocols: Hand sanitizer stations mounted on walls in every room. Frequent sanitizing of doors, bathrooms, eating utensils, bar counters and other surfaces.

Info: 549-3000 or


Masks: Masks required for everyone.

Social distancing: Reduced theater capacity. Signs and floor markers encourage social distancing. Staff and volunteers required to socially distance.

COVID tests/vaccination: Not required for visitors or volunteers. Employees must be vaccinated or provide a doctor’s exemption.

Other protocols: Thorough cleaning and sanitizing before each event or education program, including industry-standard electrostatic sprayers. Frequent cleaning and sanitizing of high-touch surfaces during events and programs. Air-handling-unit upgrades that use UV-sanitized filters for greater fresh air exchange. Touchless hand sanitizer stations.

Info: 495-8989 or


Masks: Masks strongly suggested for patrons, but not required. Employees and volunteers must wear masks.

Social distancing: Full capacity. If the theater isn’t sold out, however, box-office employees usually try to seat audience members with empty seats between them, says theater marketing director Joy Ursillo.

COVID test/vaccination card: Not required for anyone.

Other protocols: Temperature checks at the door. Hand sanitizers throughout the building. More frequent cleaning.

Info: 772-5862 or


Masks: Required for everyone when not eating or drinking.

Social distancing: Nearly full capacity for most shows. Twelve seats are left unsold so people can move and socially distance, if desired. A limited number of shows, however, will be fully socially distanced with empty seats between parties.

COVID test/vaccination card: No longer required for audience members, as of early November. Florida Rep still requires all employees, performers, and volunteers to be fully vaccinated. 

Everyone directly involved with producing the shows — including actors and crews — must be tested for COVID three times a week, according to Actors’ Equity Association rules.

Other protocols: Sanitization of public spaces before each performance. Upgraded HVACs in all performance spaces that include ionization hydro-peroxide filters to further clean the air. Portable air filters strategically placed throughout the building.

Info: 332-4488 or

Dave and Bonne Hall of Fort Myers show their vaccination card at the front door before entering Florida Rep for the October show


Masks: Not required for anyone.

Social distancing: Full capacity.

COVID test/vaccination card: Not required for anyone, although artistic director Michelle Kuntze says most of her staff have been vaccinated.

Other protocols: Hand sanitizer available for guests and staff. Frequent cleaning. Air purifiers installed.

Info: 323-6570 or


Masks: Required for everyone.

COVID tests/vaccinations: Not required for anyone. Testing of unvaccinated staff who have direct interaction with artists is done three times a week, said chief advancement officer Kimberly Dye. Artists are also tested three times a week. 

Social distancing: Full capacity for the Broadway Cabaret Series with no socially distanced seating. The theater’s first mainstage production, “August Wilson’s Radio Golf,” is currently at 75 percent capacity. The theater will assess the capacity of the remaining performances as they get closer, Dye said.

Other protocols: The theater is using dry hydrogen peroxide and UV light to help eliminate viruses from the air and surfaces, Dye said. It’s used in the theater; gathering spaces; and in rehearsal rooms, offices, shops and actor/intern housing. 

Info: 261-7529 or


Masks: Not required for either employees or customers, but recommended. “We have strongly encouraged all of our employees to get vaccinated,” says general manager Scott Bryant, “and there has been an excellent vaccination rate.”

Social distancing: Full capacity.

COVID test/vaccination card: Negative COVID tests or vaccine proof not required at this time, Bryant said.

Other protocols: Hand sanitizing stations throughout the building. Employees asked not to report to work if they’re sick, have a temperature or have come into contact with anyone with “active COVID.”

Info: 948-7825 or

Audiences arrive for the October show


Masks: Required for everyone inside the building without exception. Eating or drinking must be done outside.

Social distancing: About two-thirds capacity with socially distant seating.

COVID test/vaccination card: Not required for audiences, but all employees, performers and volunteers must be fully vaccinated or present a regular negative COVID test. 

Other protocols: Air-conditioning systems upgraded with ionizing air-purification systems. Hand sanitizing stations. Sanitizing of bathrooms, lobby, seating area and other spaces before each performance. All spaces coated monthly with anti-microbial spray.

Info: 218-0481 or


NOTE: The comedy club’s COVID protocols aren’t listed on its website, and the club’s owner’s didn’t respond to three requests for more information (two emails and one phone call).

Info: 479-5233 or


Masks: Not required for anyone. Masks available on a table for anyone who wants one.

Social distancing: Full capacity. Employees maintain social distance.

COVID test/vaccination card: Not required for audiences. All staff are vaccinated.

Other protocols: Surfaces and seats are frequently wiped down. Hand sanitizer encouraged.

Info: 642-7270 or


Masks: Masks are recommended but no longer mandatory for vaccinated patrons. Unvaccinated patrons must wear masks, but proof of vaccination isn’t required.

Social distancing: Full capacity.

COVID test/vaccination card: No longer required for audience members, as of Nov. 11. All employees and performers must be fully vaccinated.

Other protocols: The MACC is equipped with advanced HVAC and filtration systems that meets CDC requirements for filtration of COVID. Hand sanitizer stations. Intensive cleaning before, during and after each performance, including frequently touched surfaces like seats, counters and door handles. Use of contactless ticketing is encouraged.

These same rules also apply to all Gulf Coast Symphony concerts, including those at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall.

Info: 277-1700 or

Sarah DeLeonibus, left, as Gretchen, gives  Pemela Austin, as Berthe,  some German eloquence on her passion for Bernard, and luckily it's not in the sight line of his other


Masks:  Not required for anyone. Vaccinated staff and volunteers who encounter the general public are encouraged, but not required, to wear a mask.

COVID tests/vaccinations: Not required for patrons. Employees, actors and volunteers must be vaccinated, no exemptions.

Social distancing: Full capacity.

Other protocols: Disinfectants, advanced air filtration and UV air sanitation in use at all times. 

More information: 263-7990 or


Masks: Required for everyone.

Social distancing: Full capacity, but audiences can self-distance in unsold seats farther back for most shows.

COVID test/vaccination card: Not required for audiences. Cast members must be vaccinated, said board president Brenda Kensler. “I do periodic home COVID tests on our cast if they have been exposed, out of town or just for safety reasons.”

Other protocols: Hand sanitizer available as patrons enter theater.

Info: 284-5214 or


Covid tests/vaccinations: Not required for guests/staff/performers to have proof of vaccination or COVID test. 

Masks: Not required of guests/staff/performers. They are welcome to wear one if they choose.

Social distancing: Full capacity

Other protocols:  Daily sanitization of all tables and chairs before, after and in between performances, advanced air filtration system

More information: Visit Phone 239-389-6901


Masks: Required for unvaccinated audience members and employees. Vaccinated audience members are strongly encouraged to wear a mask inside the building. Board members must wear a mask when visiting the building.

COVID tests/vaccinations: Negative COVID test required for unvaccinated audience members (within 72 hours of performance time). However, audience members won’t be asked about vaccination status. Staff and volunteers must provide proof of vaccination or a doctor’s exemption. Unvaccinated staff must be tested every 14 days and wear a mask inside the building.

Social distancing and other protocols: Information unavailable.

More information: 963-9050 or


Masks: Required for employees but not audiences. The unvaccinated are asked but not required to wear masks.

Social distancing: The theater is operating at half capacity to allow for social distancing.

COVID test/vaccination card: Not required for anyone.

Other protocols: Disinfecting of the theater before every performance.

Info: 800-3292 or

Jim Rodenfels and his wife, Teddy, wore their vaccination cards to a Florida Repertory Theatre show in October. The Fort Myers theater has since dropped its requirement of either a negative COVID test or proof of vaccination for audience members.


Masks: Not required for anyone.

Social distancing: Full capacity.

COVID test/vaccination card: Not required for anyone.

Other protocols: None

Info: 985-9839 or


Masks: Not required for anyone, but encouraged for all — even the vaccinated.

Social distancing: Full capacity.

COVID test/vaccination card: Not required for anyone. If an employee develops COVID-like symptoms, they’re told to stay home and asked to show two negative COVID tests before returning, said executive director Jim Griffith.

Other protocols: Sanitizing stations at entry points, elevators and high-traffic areas. Masks available upon entrance. Regular disinfecting of restrooms, seats and frequently touched surfaces.

Despite the center’s own rules, individual presenters might have their own, separate COVID protocols.

Info: 333-1933 or


Masks: Recommended, but not required for anyone. The unvaccinated are asked to wear masks, but it’s not mandatory.

Social distancing: Operating at half-capacity (40 seats).

COVID test/vaccination card: Not required. All actors and crew members have been vaccinated. 

Other protocols: Hand sanitizer stations. Seats cleaned with Lysol spray after each performance.

Info: 398-9192 or


Masks: Strongly recommended, but not required for visitors or employees.

Social distancing: Full capacity.

COVID test/vaccination card: Not required for anyone.

Other protocols: Hand sanitizer stations. Stringent cleaning and safety practices, including disinfecting frequently touched surfaces three times a day. Plexiglass installed at concession stands and other transactional counters.

Info: 481-4849 or


Masks: Required for patrons and employees, except for actors performing on stage.

Social distancing: Full capacity.

COVID tests, vaccination card:  All employees and volunteers must be fully vaccinated, no exemptions. Production staff and artists are tested three times a week.

Other protocols: Under Actors Equity requirements, a COVID-19 guard to monitor compliance will be added before TheatreZone’s season starts in December.

Info: 888-966-3352, ext. 1 or

Connect with this reporter: Email or connect on social media at Charles Runnells (Facebook), @charlesrunnells (Twitter) and @crunnells1 (Instagram).

Written By

Avi Adkins is a seasoned journalist with a passion for storytelling and a keen eye for detail. With years of experience in the field, Adkins has established himself as a respected figure in journalism.

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