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Academy Awards is Changing Its Tune on Vaccine Mandates

Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP, File

Last week, as I covered, The Hollywood Reporter reported in an exclusive that the Oscars would not be requiring attendees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. However, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has since released protocols in place that are much stricter. "The audience of 2,500 invited guests — including all nominees — will be required to show proof of vaccination against the coronavirus and at least two negative P.C.R. tests," Brooks Barnes reported for The New York Times. 

There are some nuances. For instance, performers and presenters will still have to go through what Barnes calls "rigorous testing," but are not required to show proof of vaccination. 

Mask requirements will also vary. Who doesn't have to wear masks? As you've likely guessed, nominees and their guests. Those who are sitting in the mezzanine section, who will be closer together, may have to wear masks.

Barnes' report emphasizes improvements in Los Angeles County, which is where the awards ceremony will take place, on March 27. "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," he writes at one point. "Coronavirus safety protocols have been changing rapidly as infections have declined," he goes on to later mention as well.

With such improvements, which are indeed something to celebrate, one would expect that it won't merely be the Hollywood elite who are given a reprieve from stifling mandates and protocols. 

One of those "safety protocols" that was changed was Los Angeles County just last week got rid of its outdoor mask mandate. This change came days after the Super Bowl, which took place at SoFi Stadium, which has an indoor-outdoor structure. Thus, all of the maskless celebrities caught on camera were in violation of policy.

This includes Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. He was somehow serious in his laughable explanation claiming that he holds his breath when he poses maskless for photos, as he did at the NFC Championships, which was also played at SoFi Stadium, last month. The mayor was one of the many celebrities seen without a mask at the Super Bowl as well. 

As I covered just yesterday, Garcetti not only claimed in an interview with FOX LA that he was in compliance with the rules at the time, but dismissed it as "not a real story."

At this time, indoor mask mandates are also still in place for students. The announcement was made last week that they will remain in place until at least February 28, at which point they may be reevaluated.

A report for the Los Angeles Times by Rong-Gong Lin II and Luke Money, which was just recently updated on Friday, says that "L.A. County forecasts indoor mask mandate easing by late March." That timeline conveniently coincides with the awards' ceremony, which again, takes place on March 27. 

It's worth wondering if Mayor Garcetti will be wearing a mask should he be attending the ceremony, even if he is not mandated to do so. After all, he did say in his interview that "my advice is if you're mayor, don't take your mask off for the picture!"


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