NEW YORK — The Metropolitan Opera announced Wednesday that all eligible audience members must receive their COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to attend a show.
The mandate is slated to begin Jan. 17. Those who are not yet eligible for the booster shot will be able to continue to enter without it.
The Met will allow a two-week grace period to schedule and receive the booster once they become eligible.
“We want everyone who enters our opera house to feel safe,” Met General Manager Peter Gelb said in a statement. “We worked hard to reopen in September, and we’re certainly not giving up now. I’m confident that our employees know this action is in their best interests and that our audiences will be in agreement, too.”
The press release stated that the higher level of vigilance is being put into effect because of the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus. The decision was made in consultation with the Met’s health experts at Mount Sinai.
A vaccine mandate for employees was put in place in the summer, when employees returned to work. Audience members have been required to be fully vaccinated since the Met began performing again in September.
Face masks will still be required at all times inside the Met, except while eating or drinking.
The Met, the first cultural institution in the city to require a booster dose, has already welcomed 160,000 audience members through their doors since it reopened.
Gelb says it’s important that the opera set the stage when it comes to COVID-19 regulations.
“We're kind of the flagship opera company, certainly, and, as I said, the largest of the performance art companies," Gelb said. "Somebody’s gotta set an example,"
“The biggest concern is that the city doesn’t get shut down again," Gelb added. "That’s why we all have to do our part to make sure it’s a safe environment as possible.”
News of this upcoming mandate was music to the ears of many opera attendees Wednesday evening. And until that booster mandate goes into effect, opera-goers like Michael Murphy will continue to protect themselves and their fellow New Yorkers.
"Omicron is tearing up the fabric of our society, so it’s really time to get smart and get vaccinated and stay masked," Murphy said.
City Hall says about 1.5 million booster shots have already been administered citywide. And that number could go up if more cultural institutions like the Met decide to implement mandates.
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