“This higher level of vigilance is being put into effect in response to the anticipated wider spread of the Omicron variant,” the opera house said in a statement. It was implemented “in an effort to keep its large community of artists, orchestra, chorus, staff, and audiences safe.”
For those who are fully vaccinated and don’t become eligible for a booster until after January 17, the Met will allow them to continue to enter up until two weeks after they become eligible—recipients of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines become eligible for a booster six months after their second dose, and Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients become eligible two months after the single-dose shot. After the two-week grace period has passed, entry will not be permitted until a booster has been received.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends a booster shot for all adults age 18 and older. According to the agency, the recent emergence of the Omicron variant has further heightened the importance of boosters in the face of the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant and “the potential for immune evasion.”
The Met reopened for in-person performances on September 27 and has since conducted 59 operas for some 160,000 audience members.
“We worked hard to reopen in September, and we’re certainly not giving up now,” stated Met general manager Peter Gelb. “Our population is far larger than any other not-for-profit performing arts organization in the country, which is why we have to be in the vanguard of health and safety.”
The 138-year-old performing arts institution, which calls New York City’s Lincoln Center home, already has a mandatory vaccine policy in place for employees and audience members, and face masks have been and will continue to be required inside the venue, except when eating or drinking.
Over the summer, Broadway announced that theatergoers would be required to be vaccinated and masked as performances started back up again after being closed for more than a year due to the pandemic. That was followed by a citywide vaccine mandate requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccinations for anyone who dines at an indoor restaurant, attends a performance, or goes to the gym in New York City. Other venues in the city have yet to announce whether they, too, will require proof of booster shots.