The Academy Awards will require most attendees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and show two recent negative PCR tests, The New York Times reported Thursday, an abrupt shift from reports earlier this month that said those gathered wouldn’t be required to show proof of inoculation.
The Times, citing an academy spokesperson, said performers and presenters at the annual awards show will face the double-testing requirement but not be held to vaccination mandates. The newspaper said that decision is in line with virus safety protocols on television sets established by Los Angeles County officials.
Variety confirmed the reports later Thursday evening. The ceremony is scheduled for March 27 in Los Angeles.
The academy will invite only 2,500 people to the event at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, which typically seats more than 3,300, in an effort to keep guests safe, although many people won’t be required to wear face coverings. Masks may be required in some areas where it would be harder for guests to maintain safer distances.
The news came a week after The Hollywood Reporter said vaccination would not be required to attend the Oscars, a revelation that prompted fierce outcry from some celebrities. Seth MacFarlane, who hosted the ceremony in 2013, said the report, if true, would be a “colossal abdication of responsible management.”
Cases of COVID-19 have been falling significantly across California after a massive wave driven by the omicron variant of the virus, and the state lifted its indoor public mask mandate on Tuesday, saying it would also reevaluate school mask requirements at the end of the month. Local governments, though, could set stricter standards, and Los Angeles County still requires masks for indoor public settings.
Disneyland also said fully vaccinated guests would not be required to wear masks, and other events, like the Coachella music festival, dropped its COVID-19 safety protocols and said it would welcome the unvaccinated when it returns in April.
The New York Times said the academy would directly contact invitees and presenters to explain the safety requirements.