After much internal discussion, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has reached an agreement on coronavirus safety measures for attendees of the 94th Academy Awards, to be held March 27 in Los Angeles: Audience of 2,500 guests – including all nominees – will need to show proof of coronavirus vaccination and at least two negative PCR tests.
Performers and presenters also have to undergo rigorous testing – but those people won’t need to show proof of vaccination, a move that an academy spokeswoman said was in line with virus safety protocols on select televisions and the return-to-work standards set by Los Angeles County.
Under an agreement reached last year between entertainment unions and the Alliance of Film and TV Producers, production companies (in this case, the academy) have the ability to impose vaccinations on cast and crew. But that’s not a requirement, and some companies separate productions into zones, with different testing and social distancing requirements depending on how close cast and crew have to work together.
Face covering requirements will also vary, the academy said. Nominees and their guests will be seated in the orchestra and parterre areas of the Dolby Theater and will not be required to wear masks. These participants will be seated with more spacing than usual. The Dolby can accommodate 3,317 people and 2,500 people will be invited, the academy said.
Those in the mezzanine may be required to wear masks, as they will be seated side by side. Infections are rapidly declining in Los Angeles County, and the academy said it is consulting with government officials, infectious disease experts and an independent provider, Cosmos Health Solutions, on a policy.
Last week, following a report in The Hollywood Reporter that the academy was planning to waive a vaccination mandate at all levels, the organization was bludgeoned on social media by fans, stars, politicians and others for what appeared to be an effort to accommodate unvaccinated celebrities. . Seth MacFarlane, who hosted the Oscars in 2013, was among those who criticized the academy on Twitter.
The academy declined to say anything publicly about the Hollywood Reporter article, but officials insisted no decision had been made.
Coronavirus safety protocols have changed rapidly as infections have declined. On Tuesday, Disney relaxed its mask mandate for fully vaccinated theme park visitors in California and Florida. This week, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival said attendees (up to 125,000 fans per day in the pre-pandemic era) would not be required to be vaccinated, tested or masked.
According to government data, 1,713 coronavirus-positive patients were hospitalized in Los Angeles County on Thursday, a 54% drop since February 1. Over the past week, the county has reported an average of about 4,100 new cases per day, down 77% from two weeks ago.
The academy’s decision puts it at odds with some awards shows due to take place in the weeks leading up to the Oscars, including the Critics’ Choice Awards on March 13. Joey Berlin, the force behind the awards, told The Hollywood Reporter that everyone involved will. be vaccinated. “I can’t invite people to a show where they won’t feel safe,” he said.
The academy stressed Thursday that it will be in direct contact with nominees and studios to guide them through the various security requirements.