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Music

Palmers, Part Wolf Among Growing Number of Vax-Required Local Venues

Mortimers, The Ordway, the Guthrie, State Theatre, Pantages, the Orpheum... more and more rooms are requiring vaccines.

JRD and the Big Mistake at Mortimers, January 2020
Bryan Frank

It’s been back to back to back vax announcements for local music venues this week.

On Tuesday, Part Wolf shared an update to their COVID policy, thanking family and friends for the support and noting that starting this week, vaccines or negative COVID tests will be required for admission to all shows.

The following day, it was Mortimers, who’d previously been leaving the vax/mask question up to individual performers. “After listening to our community of friends, patrons, and musicians, we have decided to make it company policy that effective immediately all events will require a proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test 72 hours prior to the event,” their statement reads.

Then on Thursday, Part Wolf’s West Bank neighbors over at Palmer’s announced they’ll also be requiring vaccines or negative tests at indoor shows for the foreseeable future. (“This is how we continue to host live events and get through this nightmare! Thank you sincerely!”)

Part Wolf’s GM and booking manager Alex Rausch tells Racket they’ve been thinking about a vax requirement for about a month now, as Delta spreads and case numbers rise. “It just kind of seemed to make the most sense to help keep us and our community safe,” she says. “It almost seems like there’s not too many venues left that haven’t started implementing that rule.”

First Avenue was the first (a)venue to require vaccines at its show spaces throughout the Twin Cities, including the Fine Line, Turf Club, Fitzgerald Theater, and Palace Theatre. Since that early August announcement, other local music and arts spaces have followed suit.

The Ordway is requiring vaccinations or negative test results and masks during performances. So is the Cowles Center for Dance. The Guthrie’s health and safety guidelines have been updated to require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test and masks. Hennepin Theatre Trust venues (State, Pantages, Orpheum) are as well.

Museums have been a bit more lenient so far. The Walker Art Center hasn’t mandated vaccines in the gallery, but masks are required, and a completed vaccination regimen is a requisite for those attending shows or screenings in the Walker Cinema or McGuire Theater. At the Minneapolis Institute of Art, masks are “strongly encouraged,” but not required, in the galleries.

But not every area venue is on board with vax-required policies. In a now-deleted tweet last week, Mystic Lake Casino Hotel announced that it frankly did not care if the Jonas Brothers wanted proof of vaccination or a negative test for admittance to their September 11 show. On Thursday, they tweeted a follow-up—with the replies turned off this time—to say neither would be required.

Meanwhile, in the restaurant industry, downtown Minneapolis’s Hark! Cafe and W.A. Frost in St. Paul are among the few requiring vaccines or negative tests for guests who want to sit inside. Which… seems like more would follow suit? You’d think at least a few other local restaurants would do it, if only for the publicity.

Rausch says they’ve gotten a handful of negative comments—about three—but that overall, people appreciate the rule being in place. “All you can do is hope that you’re making the best choice for everyone.” She thinks people would rather local venues be open and accessible and hosting live music than go through another bleak year with no music at all. If vaccine mandates are what it takes to get there, most people don’t want to be petty about that.

“It would be such a disappointment to have to reverse backwards, and I feel like the more of us that start doing this, the less of a chance there is of that,” Rausch says. “It just doesn’t seem like we have a better solution right now. It’s do this, or just don’t have venues again.”