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Tucson performance venues open to the public with new COVID-19 protocols

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Desiree Guerrero | The Daily Wildcat The Rialto Theatre, a local spot for concerts and events, made its mark on the National Registry of Historic Places in 2003.

Live performances are back. Tucson performance venues are hosting live events, but only with one condition of being fully vaccinated or showing a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours prior to the show. 

On Monday, Sept. 20, Tucson performance venues such as the Rialto Theatre, Fox Tucson Theatre, 191 Toole, Hotel Congress and Sea of Glass — Center For The Arts are are implementing these new protocols as a way to mitigate COVID-19.

Additionally, these businesses require patrons to wear a mask while attending shows, along with staff and volunteers who are in contact with the public. 

As COVID-19 restrictions eased on allowing large group gatherings, members of the community were eager to be the first in line to attend live events again. 

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Cathy Rivers, executive director of the Rialto Theatre, is working hard with all departments of the theatre to maintain safety protocols and ensure that all of those in attendance to their in-person shows are staying healthy. 

“We need to test regularly and we need to check ourselves because we have to take care of our hearts, with food, live music, art, and we’ve got to get back to living after being hunkered down for a year and a half,” Rivers said.

Along with these additional requirements, the Rialto has also installed a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system to provide cleaner air quality.

This system cycles out air from the outside allowing fresh air to continue to filter through the theatre. It sustains a clean environment for the audience. 

These new installments are being placed in order to not only protect the public, but also ensure that in-person shows remain available to the public in the future.

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Being in a closed space and interacting with strangers who share common interests can create natural bonds between individuals that cannot be formed behind screens or through online platforms, Rivers said. 

“You can listen to music on Spotify and other apps but being in a room where you can hear it together is an experience and it is so important for our mental and physical health,” Rivers said.

After over 500 days of being closed to the public, Larry Gaurano, the marketing and communications manager at the Fox Tucson Theatre, said he hopes events remain accessible to the community with the addition of the new protocols.

“Our biggest priority is that our patrons, the performer and our staff are all safe so that we can keep the music live,” Gaurano said. 

Bonnie Schock, the executive director of the Fox Tucson Theatre, said she understands that some patrons may not agree with this new layer of entrance procedures but believes these changes are crucial to set a foundation for Fox Tucson to continue to operate.

“Our goal is to continue to live our mission and be able to put on shows that can bring everybody joy and great experiences and these are the kind of things that are necessary to do at this point of time for us to be able to continue to do that,” Schock said.  

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These businesses work on the basis of creating a safe and accessible space for the public. Schock said she believes music and performances are something that gives people the opportunity to connect with others.

“We are separated so regularly by screens and devices as well as political divides, it becomes more and more critical and meaningful for us to intentionally come together around things that we love,” Schock said.  

The Rialto Theatre, Fox Tucson Theatre, 191 Toole, Hotel Congress and Sea of Glass — Center For The Arts continue to provide a safe environment for the community and stay up to date with the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations in hopes of upholding the positive atmosphere that live events bring to the city of Tucson. 


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UA COVID-19 Test Tracker

Daily (10/20)
702 10 1.4%
Total (8/2)
40,959 623 1.5%
Includes tests since August 2, 2021
Data from https://covid19.arizona.edu/updates
Updated October 20, 2021