Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

No Covid Vaccine, No Entry Is Now Policy At Key Nashville Venues

Val Hoeppner
Amythyst Kiah performs for WMOT's Wired In June 28, 2021 at City Winery in Nashville.

A dozen of Nashville’s most influential music venues announced Tuesday that they are stepping up their Covid-19 safety protocols for all or most shows in response to surging infections largely caused by the virulent Delta variant of the virus. While policies vary slightly from business to business (see below), patrons can by and large expect that they’ll be required to show a proof-of-vaccination card or a negative Covid test that’s between 24 and 72 hours old.

“Venues are standing together to keep the music playing,” they said in a coordinated statement. Signatories are The Exit/In, City Winery, The 5 Spot, 3rd & Lindsley, The Basement and The Basement East, Mercy Lounge, The Cannery Ballroom, The High Watt, The East Room, The End and Dee’s Lounge. They'll also "strongly encourage" mask wearing inside.

The adaptation to Tennessee’s summer spike in Covid comes reluctantly, given that the venues have been desperate to restore normal operations after well over a year of closed rooms or streaming-only shows.

“We just were not comfortable with, you know, kind of playing Russian roulette with this thing,” Travis Collinsworth, owner of the 5 Spot, told WMOT. “We care very deeply about our staff members, our patrons and musicians.” The policy went into effect last week, and Collinsworth said it’s gone smoothly so far. Beyond that he says it’s something the artists are starting to ask for.

“We had one event this weekend that was awesomely attended. It was it was outstanding,” Collinsworth said. “And actually, the promoter of that came up to me after the show and told me that they were thinking about canceling that show, until they saw our policy announcement.”

On Monday, songwriter Jason Isbell, one of the biggest-drawing artists in roots music, alerted his fans that going forward his shows will require vaccination or a Covid test. “The people who work at the venues and who work in the music business understand,” Isbell told MSNBC on Monday. “They understand that we could go back to not working at all, and a lot of these smaller venues, they aren’t going to be able to reopen if they go through another round of shutdowns.”

Isbell's policy will run headlong into some newly enacted state laws prohibiting private business from denying entry to the unvaccinated, including one in Isbell’s home state of Alabama. Tennessee has not enacted such a law, but the venue owners are watching that carefully.

“Nashville’s creative working class is our city’s greatest strength. We will continue to collaborate to protect and nurture live music,” said Exit/In owner Chris Cobb in the collective statement. “Thank you to all the fans, bands, and venue staff for respecting each venue’s policy decisions. We will get through this together.”

The venues released these specific policies:

3rd and Lindsley: As Nashville's Good To Go Program and official local health guidelines evolve regarding COVID-19 safety protocols, select events and shows at 3rd and Lindsley Nashville will adopt Proof of a COVID-19 Vaccine or a Negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of the event for admission with limited exceptions as may be required by law. Select shows will be a co-op between the Venue, Artists, Bands, Event Planners, and Management specific to select shows and events noted at point of purchase at 3rdandlindsley.com. All other COVID-19 protocol in line with Nashville's Good To Go Program and the Nashville Metro Health Department's A Safe Nashville will be in place for all events and shows.

The 5 Spot: Proof of COVID-19 vaccine OR negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to entry. required for entry. Masks required for staff. Effective 8/7/2021.

The Basement / The Basement East: Proof of a full course of COVID-19 vaccination, with their final dose at least fourteen days prior to the show or proof of a negative COVID-19 test, administered by a health care provider, taken in the prior 48 hours. Masks are strongly recommended. Effective 8/15/2021.

City Winery: Proof of COVID-19 vaccine OR negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to entry. Masks are required indoors when moving about the building. Effective 8/2/2021.

Dee’s Lounge: Proof of COVID-19 vaccine OR negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to entry for all shows. Masks required for staff. Effective 8/12/21.

East Room: Proof of COVID-19 vaccine OR negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to entry. Effective 8/6/2021.

The End: Proof of COVID-19 vaccine OR negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to entry. Required for entry for all artists, crew, and guests. Effective 8/16/21.

Exit/In: Proof of COVID-19 vaccine, with final dose having been administered at least fourteen days prior to the show OR negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours administered by or under the supervision of a healthcare provider prior to entry. Masks required for staff and strongly recommended for patrons. Effective 8/12/2021.

Mercy Lounge / Cannery Ballroom / The High Watt: Proof of COVID-19 vaccine OR negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to entry. Masks required for Staff and strongly recommended for Customers Effective 8/13/2021.

Craig Havighurst is WMOT's music news producer and host of The String, a show featuring conversations on culture, media and American music. New episodes of The String air on WMOT 89.5 in Middle Tennessee on Mondays at 8 pm, repeating Sundays at 7 am. Twitter and Instagram: @chavighurst.