Skip to main content

Vaccine passports v. the performing arts: A Covid haunted fall season

Written By | Oct 14, 2021
Covid haunted fall season, vaccine passports, performing arts

Cartoon by Garrison. Reproduced with permission and by arrangement with See link after article.

WASHINGTON – After dealing with over a year of a forced, Covid haunted sabbatical from reviewing the Washington performing arts scene, I seriously considered retiring from the field. Between my time spent reviewing classical music, opera and the occasional drama for the Washington Times, then doing the same for CDN, I put in nearly 25 wonderful years covering the arts in the DMV. That’s a long time for nearly any full or part-time career. But when September 2021 rolled around, I considered picking up the phone and introducing myself to a mostly changed and (hopefully) post-pandemic cast of press representatives. The goal? Lining up at least a partial fall reviewing schedule. But for now, I’m holding off. The primary reason: vaccine passports. They’re he-e-e-ere. And they’re everywhere. We can now look forward to an entirely masked, Covid haunted fall  performing arts season.

What’s next? CCP-style social report cards?

Unelected government control freaks are everywhere. Even the concert hall. Result: A Covid haunted fall season

Most of the information PR reps send me via email states that prospective ticket holders will need these likely unconstitutional, government imposed vaccine passports to attend performances  at nearly any performing arts venue in the Washington, D.C. metro area. This arbitrary and unscientific requirement is insulting to the public. It interferes with often logical personal choice in health matters. It seriously detracts from the potential enjoyment of any performance. (Particularly if you wear eyeglasses.) And, in my opinion, it’s a largely pointless assault on personal liberty as well.

I can guarantee that this “mandatory requirement” will serve to deter a significant number of regular performing arts fans from purchasing tickets until they can ensure they’ll be able to enjoy a performance without the encumbrance of ever-changing rules and ID requirements that seem to arbitrarily change along with our area’s ever-shifting political winds.

It’s not a good look.

And worse, despite media opinions to the contrary, all the masking, social distancing and vaxxing in the world is no longer making much difference. Delta variant cases are now in a major decline. Further, the Covid pandemic has likely functionally morphed — permanently — into an endemic disease. As noted scientist and former FDA head Scott Gottleib stated (and the media ignored) in late summer, Covid-19 and its variants no longer constitute a pandemic. Like the flu, some form of this nasty bug will always be with us. Thus, the disease is now endemic.

The real long term solution:  Time to get back to work. Time to get back to life. And enjoy it. Live long, and prosper.

Obey: Or your ticket to the symphony is no good

Back to those vaccine passports and masks you’ll now need to attend any local performing arts events. Both here in the DMV and likely across most of the country.

For an example of what I’m talking about, here’s an online policy announcement from a fantastic new Virginia concert venue, the newly opened Capital One Hall and performing arts complex that’s opening for business in the Tysons Corner area. This long-overdue performing arts venue in Fairfax County, Virginia, will offer Virginians a state-of-the-art performing arts venue that doesn’t require a traffic-clogged trip across the Potomac to the Kennedy Center. And it may finally give the aging, physically unappealing Center for the Arts at George Mason facility a run for its money as well.

Except that those wishing to see performances of the National Symphony Orchestra and other key ensembles at Capitol One Hall can only get in if they meet more stringent requirements than most people need in order to vote in America’s increasingly suspicious elections.

Here are the current “guidelines” the Capitol One Hall website has posted. These are effectively marching orders you’ll need to follow to the letter in order to get in to any performance there, at least for now. Even if you’ve already bought a ticket.

Mask and Vaccination Requirements: Evidence that a Covid haunted fall season is upon us

“All Capital One Hall event attendees over the age of 12 must provide proof of full vaccination, the last dose of which was administered at least 14 days prior to entering Capital One Hall, or an approved COVID-19 negative test taken no more than 48 hours before entering Capital One Hall. Proof of vaccination can be your physical vaccine card or a photo of your card. The name on the card or negative test must match the name on your photo ID. Entry requirements subject to change. Entry requirements subject to change.

“All attendees, including those under the age of 12, must wear protective masks regardless of vaccination status while inside Capital One Hall except when actively eating or drinking.”

The intent here is not to single out Capital One Hall for criticism. As Mozart might have said in another context, “Cosi fan tutte.” “They all do it.”

Having already folded to various flavors of political correctness into their fall event schedules, many, if not most performing arts venues here have set up similar Covid regimes effectively requiring “vaccine passports” or a close equivalent before their patrons even think of attending a live event. That’s simply a step too far away from the individual Constitutional rights cherished by all – or at least a majority – of US citizens. And for that reason, I’m personally choosing not to play. Or get back to reviewing.

Another opportunity for Washington and local governments to flash their official Fascist badges

What I find particularly problematic, in addition to my Constitutional concerns, is the sheer, grinding, illogical torture the fascists – yes, fascists – who head up Federal, state and local government entities, continue to impose on citizens, small businesses and arts venues alike. Without any apparent legal precedent. We have to obey these totalitarians. Because they said so.

There is no “proven science” universally supporting the medical effectiveness of masks, vaccine regimes, social distancing and the like. Or, even if there were, why, then, do we get conflicting messages on Covid nearly every other day from the hapless, overpaid dingbats running the CDC and related agencies? Right up to the current, farcical White House regime, which tends to contradict itself by the day if not the hour?

I also feel very bad about the uncertain future of many performing arts organizations. Many of them already run on a shoestring budget. But after an entire, effectively dark 2020 season, they now must muddle through this audience shrinking social passport nonsense. It’s going to be more difficult than it needs to be for them to forge ahead and rebuild.

Why make things worse for them now? And, in the process, why use unlawful “mandates” to limit access to performing arts venues and other public spaces? Now, only to those who knuckle under to illegal, unsupported social passport demands can enjoy live entertainment. Fully-masked, of course.

So what about these arbitrary demands being imposed by out-of-control, increasingly fascistic agencies and political control-freaks? The arrogance and presumption driving these “mandates” is an affront to all Americans at best. And at worst, it’s an ominous look into the Marxist-style power grabbing future much preferred by out-of-control government entities and political “elites.”

Sadly, most local performing arts venues have caved when it comes to vaccine passports

As previously noted, the folks in charge of Capitol One Hall aren’t unique in demanding vaccine passports. The Kennedy Center and nearly every performing arts venue in town now demands similar “evidence” before letting anyone into their facilities.

Worse, if you don’t pass muster, it looks like you’ll likely need to forfeit the $$$ you paid for your ticket, unless you can arrange to get some kind of refund. Another needless mess.

For this and other reasons, I’m just going to continue with my reviewing sabbatical for now. I’m doing so even though I’ve been fully vaccinated, J&J-style, since last March. And even though I believe the current vaccines are generally effective within reason. With the usual medical caveats. Caveats the current “vaccine passport” requirements seem to totally ignore.

Gottleib: Covid has essentially become endemic. Which means the vaccine passport game should be canceled

As I’ve said before in other columns, Covid is here to stay – forever. In one way, shape or form, we all need to face this fact. Just like the flu, we’ll now have to deal with “re-tuned” annual vaccines that cover the most likely flavor of bug. The annual “variant” and its viral mutant offspring that will make the rounds year after year. Just like the flu. Whose available vaccines have always been optional, BTW.

In late August, 2021, noted scientist and former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottleib confirmed this. He observed that after the currently waning “Delta version” Covid surge peaked, circa mid-to-late September, Covid-19 and its evil offspring would become “endemic.” Just like the flu. Meaning it’s here to stay in various forms and will likely never really go away. Which, in turn, implies that we all need to get back to work, business, entertainment and life in general. That’s because there’s only so much you can do each year to hold off a disease that’s endemic. One that will always be here. Like the flu, Covid will continue to haunt us. It will do so no matter what we do or what an increasingly confused Federal government chooses to dictate.

The time is now…

This means it’s also time for governments and officials to give the current “vaccine passport” “mandates” a permanent rest.

At the moment, the US and other countries continue throttling the freedom of businesses and individuals alike. As they see fit. Like dictators. (Check out Australia to see where this is headed next.)

With government’s haphazard, scorched earth approach, life in general will get worse. Not better. Whatever the case, Covid-19 and the flu will remain. So it’s time to show the Covid terrorists the door. It’s time to get a life. And time to let the arts get back to staging normal performances again. Without “vaccine passports” or related nonsensical demands.

George Orwell already knew where this kind of authoritarian nonsense would end up. That’s why Americans of all political beliefs need to put a stop to it now. We don’t need to live this way, Covid haunted and afraid to go anywhere, because, Covid.

As for this writer, arts reviewing remains on hold for now. But I will begin to acquaint our readers with the increasing number of excellent and interesting streaming performances, often available on demand via YouTube. You can enjoy these great performances without worrying about holding “vaccine passports” or wearing essentially useless masks. And you can even bring your own popcorn, something that most venues discouraged, even prior to Covid. We might even highlight that rarely-sighted animal known as “conservative rap.” You never know. These are interesting times.

Headline image link:






Terry Ponick

Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Senior Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17