Kashena Sampson performs at The Basement. Photo by Jack Evan Johnson

A dozen Nashville music venues unite in COVID-19 vaccine/test requirement

Today a dozen independent Nashville music venues announced solidarity in requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccine or negative test in order for entry.

The requirements vary slightly from venue to venue, which include East Nashville venues The 5 Spot, The East Room, and The Basement East, as well as Dee’s Country Cocktail Lounge in Madison, The Basement, 3rd and Lindsley (select shows), City Winery Nashville, The End, Mercy Lounge/Cannery Ballroom/The High Watt, and Exit/In. 

(Update: All-ages venue Drkmttr also announced today that proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test within 48 hours would be required for entry, as well as masks being mandatory with the exception of drinking and eating.) 

“We hope our decision to move forward with this results in more people getting the vaccination, pure and simple. Vaccinations save lives,” said Mike Grimes, co-owner of The Basement East/The Basement. The Basement East first announced a vaccine/test requirement for Saturday’s Becca Mancari show, but held off on announcing an official policy until today. 

All the listed venues, with the exception of 3rd and Lindsley, have announced a strict requirement of proof of vaccine or negative test (taken within 48 or 72 hours, depending on the venue).

3rd and Lindsley will be requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccine or negative COVID-19 test (taken within 48 hours) for select shows, with limited exceptions. The venue states COVID-19 protocol in line with Nashville’s Good To Go program and the Metro Health Department’s A Safe Nashville will be in place for all events and shows.

City Winery Nashville was the first venue to announce, last Tuesday, that proof of a COVID-19 vaccine or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours will be required for entry, and face coverings will be required indoors when moving about the building. 

“In these times we must behave as responsibly as possible. We will continue to provide a safe environment for our guests, our staff, and our artists so we can keep our doors open for Nashville to gather with friends and enjoy live music,” said Michael Dorf, CEO of City Winery. 

City Winery’s announcement was followed by The 5 Spot announcing Wednesday that a COVID-19 vaccine was required for entry (and updated to include a negative test, taken within 72 hours). Additionally, masks are required for staff, and recommended for guests. 

“We have had enough close calls and scares over the last couple weeks,” The 5 Spot co-owner Travis Collinsworth said Wednesday. He emphasized that the venue did not have the extra staff required to stay open, if a staff member were to test positive for COVID-19. 

The 5 Spot announcement was followed hours later by The East Room, 2412 Gallatin Ave., which posted on social media that bands, patrons, and staff must require a proof of vaccine or negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours, in order to enter. 

Taylor Cole, The East Room’s talent buyer/general manager, said that the new protocols are the best way The East Room can do its part in protecting the community, without closing down. 

“We need to do what we can to stay open. If the new variant puts us all in quarantine I don’t know how many venues will survive, including us,” Cole said. “I remember before Nashville had all these amazing venues to pick from… if you think being in a band here is hard now, try it without all these amazing venues that we care about so much.” 

Today’s announcement came in a press release from the Music Venue Alliance of Nashville, an organization representing over 15 independent Nashville venues. However, according to MVAN marketing manager Tori Bishop, it was not an MVAN decision. 

“This was a decision made by venues that were able to put in place these types of protocols at this time. A few of the venues involved are not members of MVAN. However, we felt it was necessary as an ecosystem in Nashville to be able to stand together,” Bishop said. 

The venues do not have an end date for the new protocols, Bishop said. 

“We are solely going off of what artists are requesting, what the CDC is recommending, etc. These policies will be something that we are continuing to look at and are able to update when necessary,” she said. 

Today’s announcement follows last week’s news that, with the recent increase in the COVID-19 Delta variant case numbers, Metro buildings and Metro Nashville Public Schools would be requiring face coverings.  

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