Sonoma County entertainment venues welcome back the public for live events

After nearly two years of on-and-off restrictions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, the people running Sonoma County’s live entertainment venues are embracing the latest relaxation of public health rules with a large dose of cautious optimism.

This means welcoming the public back to live events that have been paused or canceled in the county amid local rules tailored to the omicron surge.

Over the weekend, the doors were wide open at the Green Music Center in Rohnert Park, where the Santa Rosa Symphony Orchestra performed Saturday and Sunday, as well as the small Lost Church nightclub in downtown Santa Rosa which was open on Sunday. Venues reported good footfall, but still no return to pre-pandemic levels.

“I don’t know what normalcy looks like now, and it’s really hard to say,” said Jacob Yarrow, executive director of the Green Music Center. “We are continuing with security measures. We check the vaccination status of our visitors, and we continue to hide inside. We want to be careful.

Sonoma County on Friday lifted its month-long ban on large indoor gatherings, and the state’s mandate to wear masks indoors expires for all but unvaccinated people at the end of Tuesday.

Site administrators who were hit hard during Sonoma County’s last shutdown say they are cautiously returning to a landscape of fuller homes and reservations.

Bryce Dow-Williamson, chief executive of Lost Church, said he was monitoring statistics on new cases of omicron variants of coronavirus and checking guidelines from the federal Center for Disease Control for updates.

“We were careful in moving to more than only requiring proof of vaccination, rather than also including proof of negative viral tests,” Dow-Williamson said. “We recommend masks when you are not drinking. I think we are getting closer to the new normal. »

Its hall seats 100, while Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center has an indoor capacity of 1,000, but the challenges are essentially the same. Managers must protect not only their own patrons, but also the guest artists they schedule for performances.

“We work with touring artists, and they ask that we continue to require masks,” Yarrow explained.

Throughout the nearly two-year pandemic, a series of state and local public health orders, ranging from mask mandates to bans on large gatherings, have been imposed in response to surges in corornavirus infections.

The first set occurred with the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, the second with the increase in cases and deaths linked to the delta variant and a third with the highly infectious omicron variant in recent months.

Check back for more on this developing story.

You can reach editor Dan Taylor at [email protected] or 707-521-5243. On Twitter @danarts.

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