No vax needed for performers, presenters at Oscars, different standard for nominees and guests

No vax needed for performers, presenters at Oscars, different standard for nominees and guests
(Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File)

“All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others,” George Orwell wrote in “Animal Farm”. That quote comes to mind often when we talk about COVID-19 mandates and enforcement by various authorities. In a liberal haven like Hollywood, you’d think that a blatant show of COVID-19 mandate hypocrisy would be avoided in order to avoid the publicity yet you would be mistaken. There is a distinction made between performers and presenters at this year’s Oscars ceremony versus award nominees and guests attending the ceremony.

The logic escapes me here. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided that the coronavirus safety measures will include requiring all nominees and guests to show proof of vaccination and at least two negative P.C.R. tests. The audience is expected to be 2,500 in total attendance, including the nominees. However, performers and presenters will be required to be tested but no need to show proof of vaccination will be necessary. The audience in the room has to prove vaccination but the performers and presenters don’t have a requirement of being vaccinated. Does the virus magically know where the stage stops and the audience seating areas begin?

An academy spokesperson said that this decision is in line with coronavirus safety protocols on some television show sets and with return-to-work standards set by Los Angeles County.

Under an agreement last year between entertainment unions and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, production companies (in this case the academy) have the option to mandate vaccinations for cast and crew. But it is not a requirement, and some companies separate productions into zones, with different testing and social distancing requirements depending on how closely casts and crews need to work together.

In other words, vaccines are separating society, even at a Hollywood award ceremony. Have the vaccines proven to be bullet-proof in protecting people against getting the virus? No. Vaccines work to prevent hospitalization for otherwise healthy people and in younger people as long as there are no pre-existing conditions. And, vaccines bring down the death rates. If the liberals among us want to continue to preach about following the science, they need to update their mantra. Especially when it comes to wearing face masks. What about face masks at the ceremony this year? Well, that requirement varies, too.

Face covering requirements also will vary, the academy said. Nominees and their guests will be seated in the orchestra and parterre areas of the Dolby Theater and will not be required to wear masks. These attendees will be seated with more spacing than usual. The Dolby seats 3,317 people and 2,500 people will be invited, the academy said.

Those in the mezzanine may be required to wear masks, as they will sit shoulder-to-shoulder. Infections are declining rapidly in Los Angeles County, and the academy said it was consulting with government officials, infectious disease experts and an independent vendor, Cosmos Health Solutions, on a policy.

“Infections are declining rapidly…” Yes. That is the case across most places in the United States.

When an article came out last week from The Hollywood Reporter addressing the safety protocols for the Oscars, though, it reported that the academy was considering lifting vaccine requirements for everyone. It looked like the decision was going to be made in order to accommodate unvaccinated stars and celebrities. Our betters in the entertainment world didn’t approve of that and delivered their hot takes on social media. One host of the ceremony in 2013 weighed in.

As the NYT article points out, since the pandemic is rapidly approaching an endemic stage, safety protocols are quickly changing, especially for large events. Look at any college football game or the Super Bowl last weekend and you’ll see thousands of unmasked spectators sitting together enjoying the game. That is what we used to call normal behavior.

Coronavirus safety protocols have been changing rapidly as infections have declined. On Tuesday, Disney eased its mask mandate for fully vaccinated theme park visitors in California and Florida. This week, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival said attendees (up to 125,000 fans a day in the prepandemic era) would not be required to be vaccinated, tested or masked.

According to government data, 1,713 coronavirus-positive patients were hospitalized in Los Angeles County as of Thursday, a 54 percent decline since Feb. 1. Over the last week, the county has reported an average of about 4,100 new cases per day, a decline of 77 percent from two weeks ago.

This sort of decision to go with stricter requirements for some and not everyone is what makes people angry. At this point, a lot of this is just pandemic theatrics. We have never all been in this together (mitigating the pandemic) and despite what officials who put mandates in place say, we never were.

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