How Safe Is Indoor Entertainment? Masks, Vaccines Reduce Risks, Doctors Say

A DJ wears a mask while mixing music.
A DJ wears a mask while mixing music. [Sabrina Bracher / Shutterstock.com]

Many Northeast Ohio arts and entertainment venues are again requiring masks inside their facilities. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Playhouse Square, Holden Forests & Gardens and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have all reinstated indoor mask requirements for staff and visitors as COVID-19 cases increase with the spread of the delta variant.  

People should avoid going to indoor venues not currently requiring masks, according to Dr. Amy Edwards, pediatric infectious disease specialist at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.

“This variant is so contagious, we have to do everything to prevent transmission. And not masking is not an option anymore,” Edwards said.

Some concert venues are going further and requiring proof of vaccination at the door. National venue operators AEG Presents and Live Nation both recently announced plans to require proof of vaccination for entry to shows, which affects local venues such as the Agora and the House of Blues.

This lowers the risk, but it’s not a “silver bullet” for safety, according to Dr. Frank Esper, pediatric infectious disease specialist at Cleveland Clinic Children's.

“Proof of vaccination helps, but by itself is not enough,” Esper said. “We would still recommend that you go ahead and wear a mask.”

Both doctors stress masking indoors – whether for entertainment or anything else – and getting vaccinated to protect oneself and others from COVID-19.

“Anytime you are vaccinated, you are much better off than those people who are not vaccinated,” Esper said.

Children under 12, of course, are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.

Edwards advises parents avoid indoor entertainment venues until their children can be vaccinated and instead take advantage of outdoor activities, as the virus doesn’t spread as well outside.

Densely packed outdoor concerts and sporting events are less safe and masks make sense in those cases, both doctors said.

Safety precautions like masking indoors and vaccination requirements at concert venues are expected to continue in the coming months based upon the current spread of the virus. New York City announced this week museums and cultural institutions will require proof of vaccination. Broadway shows in New York carry the requirement, too. 

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