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Les Schwab Amphitheater to soon require proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test for all events


But venue doesn't plan mask requirement, noting enforcement issues

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Les Schwab Amphitheater will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test at all concerts "in short order," but still plans to only encourage, not require masks due to enforcement challenges, an official told Bend city councilors Wednesday night.

The venue, which this year joined the major concert promoter Live Nation, recently announced it would require vaccine or test proof for concertgoers for the last few concerts of a packed season, under Live Nation's requirements, starting Oct. 4. Some individual artists, such as the Dave Matthews Band, have announced such requirements for their tours, including Bend, as Live Nation gave them that option.

Amphitheater General Manager Marney Smith said there are "a number of moving parts to implement (the vaccine/testing requirement) safely and fairly, so we don't have a specific date we can announce, but as soon as reasonable."

Meanwhile, Smith said, all employees and vendors are required to be vaccinated, and staff when they arrive for a shift have a temperature check and a health questionnaire, and if symptomatic are sent home.

Other steps also have been taken to reduce COVID risks among concert attendees, such as going cashless, not having beer on tap and more points of sale for food and beverages.

Councilor Megan Perkins said she attended Tuesday night's concert (featuring Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats) and "saw all the back of the house stuff." She said her concern was that while her party was masked, many others were not, so she asked, "Has there been any talk about those, especially in front of the stage, requiring or highly encouraging masks?"

"Yes, we are encouraging masks," Smith said. "Operationally, I have concerns about requiring them. It's a bit difficult to enforce. Tempers are running pretty high in the community," and arguments could ensue involving the "nose out and nose in" mask-wearers.

"From managing large groups of people, we'd prefer not to have that," she said.

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Barney Lerten

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