Austin arts organizations announce new COVID-19 safety protocols amid Stage 5

Austin arts organizations announce new COVID-19 protocols amid Stage 5

Long Center lawn Austin
The Long Center is among several local arts orgs implementing stricter COVID-19 safety protocols.  Long Center/Facebook

Amid the brutally lingering COVID-19 pandemic and Austin’s continued Stage 5 level of community risk, several local arts organizations are setting new safety protocols for attendees.

On Friday, September 3, the Long Center for the Performing Arts, in partnership with Ballet Austin, Austin Opera, and Austin Symphony Orchestra, released its updated health and wellness protocols under Stage 5.

Effective immediately, these new protocols will be enforced for all indoor events:

  • Event attendees ages 12 and older must provide a printed copy of a negative COVID-19 test result obtained within 72 hours of event entry. In lieu of a negative test, patrons can voluntarily provide printed proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the time of the event.
  • Printed negative test results and vaccination proof must be dated and include the patron’s full name, which must match the patron’s ID.
  • Masks must be worn at all times except when actively eating or drinking.

For socially distanced outdoor events on the H-E-B Terrace at the Long Center, the venue will not require a negative COVID-19 test result, though additional public health and safety measures — including requiring negative COVID-19 test results — may be implemented for larger outdoor events that use the Long Center’s lawn. And even outdoors, the Long Center requires event attendees to wear masks at all times unless actively eating or drinking.  

The policy, which is in accordance with local public-health recommendations, will stay in place while Austin is in Stage 5, the highest COVID risk level. And the Long Center notes that ticket holders will be notified of any updates to the policy should the situation change, including in “know before you go” emails from the Long Center, Ballet Austin, the Austin Opera, and the Austin Symphony.

“The Long Center eagerly joins together with Ballet Austin, Austin Opera, and Austin Symphony Orchestra in making the safety of our patrons, artists, staff, and community our highest priority,” says Cory Baker, Long Center president and CEO. “These steps will allow our organizations to continue our mission-driven work and ensure Austin can continue to safely experience the arts when they need it most.”

At seemingly the same time, Austin’s Zach Theatre announced that effective immediately, it will now require all audience members age 12 and older to provide a recent negative COVID-19 test result upon entry to performances. In lieu of a negative test result, patrons may volunteer proof of full COVID-19 vaccination.

Similar to that of the other arts organizations updating their safety protocols, Zach Theatre requires that patrons’ negative COVID-19 tests be obtained within 72 hours of any given show date, and negative tests and proof of vaccination will be matched with each patron’s ID. Both molecular (PCR) and antigen (rapid) test results will be accepted.

In terms of vaccination proof, the theater will accept proof in the form of patrons’ physical vaccination cards (which must show full vaccination at least 14 days prior to the show date), verified apps (Clear Health Pass, My Bindle), or a photo of a physical vaccination card.

The Zach safety policy applies to both indoor and outdoor performances. Children younger than 12 will not be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test upon entry. However, masks are required for all patrons at all times except when actively eating or drinking.

“Our city needs live performances,” says Elizabeth Challener, managing director at Zach Theatre. “If there is a way to bring performing arts back to Austin, keep people safe, and not add additional burden to our healthcare workers, that’s what we’re going to do. And we believe this plan will accomplish that.”

For more information and up-to-date details about the Zach Theatre safety protocols, visit

For more information about the new protocols for the Long Center and other local arts organizations, visit,,, and