The Kennedy Center is joining the growing list of performance venues requiring that its audiences be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The new policy, announced Thursday by the prominent Washington performing arts institution along with D.C.'s Ford's Theatre, will mandate that all patrons, as well as artists, staff, volunteers and ushers be fully vaccinated.
Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter called it a "duty" to ensure audience members' "health and security, as well as the safety of our performers and staff."
“Working together we can get back to what we love — the arts — but we must reopen cautiously and responsibly. These new measures will reduce risk and help all arts venues maintain the forward momentum we are feeling right now," Rutter said.
Paul Tetreault, the director of Ford's Theatre, called the moves "necessary temporary measures to protect our community from contracting and spreading COVID-19."
The vaccination policy will begin Sept. 1.
Face masks will also be required inside the venues regardless of vaccination status, the theaters said. Exceptions would be made for those under 12, who are currently unable to be vaccinated, or "for patrons with a medical condition or closely-held religious belief that prevents vaccination." Those visitors will be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
Other theater and music spaces throughout the D.C. region have announced similar vaccination requirements in recent days. Earlier this week, the operator behind popular venues including Washington's 9:30 Club, Lincoln Theatre, Merriweather Post Pavilion and the Anthem said attendees will have to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter events there.
A coalition of live theaters in and around the District, including the Shakespeare Theatre Company and Arena Stage, unveiled their own vaccine mandate last week.
Vaccination mandates have also been instituted in other parts of the country. New York Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioNYPD union sues city over vaccine mandate The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Biden makes his pitch as tax questions mount Hochul gets early boost as NY gubernatorial race takes shape MORE (D) announced last week that, beginning on Monday, proof of vaccination would be required for workers and customers who want to participate in indoor activities, including theater performances and concerts.