Two weeks ago, the Oregon Symphony threw a classical music festival in the grassy Bowl south of the Hawthorne Bridge in Tom McCall Waterfront Park. It was free but required proof of COVID vaccination (or a recent, negative test) for admittance. Seemed easy enough, but one of my friends forgot his card.
Did he not have a photo on his phone? He did not. Was the whole concert outdoors, on a windy slope? It was. That didn’t matter.
Every day more venues, restaurants and planned events announce new policies, requiring either proof of vaccination or a recent, negative COVID test at the door. How recent the test needs to be varies.
The Alberta Rose Theatre won’t even trifle with a negative test. It’s simply full vaxx. Similarly, Belmont Station requires vaxx cards to sit inside the taproom. “We will not be accepting negative COVID tests,” the beer shop wrote in an email. Staff won’t check your card if you just want to pick up a few beers from the bottle shop, though.
More accommodating spaces, like the Old Church, took a page out of Mississippi Studios’ book and arranged for a testing trailer on show nights, where attendees can avail themselves of a rapid antigen test for admittance.
The Hollywood Theatre won’t accept rapid antigen tests, however. The only negative tests it accepts are the PCR variety—which are more reliable but need to be sent away, taking anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to relay the results.
Hip, minimalist hotel Kex announced this week that it will require cards or tests for admission to its upcoming Lose Yr Mind Fest, despite planning to hold the shows on Kex’s sizable rooftop patio. The foresight paid off, as the weekend forecast of rain necessitated moving most of the festival’s show inside after all.
Farther out, the Boise music festival Treefort will mandate vaxx proof or test results. It’s going so far as to request attendees sign up for the medical wallet app Bindle for fast, precheck admission.
The variety in the policies is no doubt daunting to anyone trying to bring the correct documents to the cool vaxx party. It’s also a result of a lack of government regulation of how people should treat gatherings and indoor spaces. The result is that lots of places are just doing their own thing.
Many of Portland’s established arts spaces—like the Opera and the Portland’5 stages—adopted vaccination proof and negative test policies back in August, around the same time that a coalition of local bars banded together to request vaxx cards at the door. As that coalition’s numbers swelled, many predicted it would soon be obsolete—there would be more places demanding cards than not.
Bit by bit, that’s coming to pass. It’s still pretty easy to find places to eat and drink that are only following the statewide mask mandate. But it’s hard to imagine how anyone will be able to enjoy live music, theater or other forms of in-person culture this fall without a vaccination card.