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Some St. Louis Music Venues To Require COVID-19 Vaccine Or Negative Test For Entry

Pat Hagin, a Managing Partner of The Pageant, discusses what is next for the venue in light of current low state-wide COVID-19 vaccination rates and shifting local mandates.
File photo / David Kovaluk
St. Louis Public Radio
Patrick Hagin, managing partner of the Pageant in the Delmar Loop, said the vaccine requirements are necessary to keep staff, artists and concertgoers safe as the coronavirus continues to spread.

Some of the leading St. Louis music venues will require concert attendees to have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or a negative coronavirus test.

Off Broadway, the Sinkhole, Red Flag, the Pageant and Delmar Hall announced the requirements this week. The rules, effective immediately, require visitors to show proof through a phone photo or other documentation that they’ve received one shot of the vaccine. An unvaccinated person will need to show documentation of a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours of attendance.

The clubs are taking action because the delta variant is rapidly spreading in Missouri, where 49% of the state's residents have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. In St. Louis County, 53% of residents and in St. Louis, 44% of residents have.

“At the end of the day, it's a pandemic that is not going away,” the Pageant and Delmar Hall Managing Partner Patrick Hagin said. “As a country as a whole, we’ve not done a good enough job putting it down, and vaccinations are the key to that. Our policy is twofold in the sense that it is to protect our patrons, our staff and the artists as much as practically possible, but also, quite honestly, to encourage people to get the vaccination.”

The new regulations come as the venues and festivals across the country are implementing vaccination and masking requirements as the delta variant surges.

Hagin said one act he booked canceled a show after someone in a band’s touring party tested positive for the virus. Missouri’s high number of cases also could lead artists to skip the state for other states with higher vaccination rates, he said.

“If things stay the way they are right now, you're going to start running into more cancellations by touring artists, especially based on your geographic region,” Hagin said. “What could very well happen is an artist could potentially just route their tour through the areas where they feel they're safer and not tour the areas of the South, the sections of the Midwest where they feel they're more at risk."

Hagin said that the guidelines will be temporary and that he will revisit the rules when vaccination rates are higher. He said guests who bring a negative COVID-19 test cannot show results from a take-home test. The Pageant and Delmar Hall guests also are required to wear a mask when entering the building.

The rise in cases have venue operators worried after a year of uncertainty that have shaken the concert venue industry. Many venues had to shut down to prevent the spread of the virus andhave only recently reopened. Another shutdown because of a low vaccination rate could cause significant damage to the region’s live music scene, said Robert Fancher, owner of Red Flag, a concert venue on Locust Street that opened its doors this month.

“I think we're all thinking impending doom would be another shutdown,” Fancher said. “We're all trying to be proactive and do whatever we can to avoid that because many venues didn't survive the first shutdown. I don't think the rest of us could survive a second one.”

Fancher and Hagin said that the rules also apply to the performing artists and that rules will better protect all people inside their venues. They urge more venues to implement requirements across the region.

“I’m hoping more venues do follow suit,” Hagin said. “The more of us that follow a policy, the better it is for everyone if we can stay consistent across the board.”

Follow Chad on Twitter: @iamcdavis

Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.