The Academy Awards, which are scheduled for March 27 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, won’t require proof of vaccination against covid-19 for attendees, according to a surprising new report from the Hollywood Reporter. The decision runs counter to other entertainment industry award shows like the SAG Awards and Critics Choice Awards, which will require proof of vaccination.
Last year’s Oscars ceremony was an extremely bare-bones event, held at Union Station in Los Angeles, and didn’t even have a formal host. Vaccinations against covid-19 were still relatively new at the time, with the first Americans getting vaccinated just a few months earlier.
But the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences apparently wants this year to be a return to “normalcy,” albeit with a much larger death count in the country’s wake. The U.S. has recorded over 911,000 deaths from covid-19 since the pandemic began.
The Academy will still require a negative covid-19 test, whether it’s a PCR test or a rapid antigen test, on the same day as the Oscars, but it’s not clear exactly how the event is going to enforce that policy. The Academy has not yet formally announced its intention not to require vaccination, and it’s also up in the air whether masks will be required, according to Deadline. Events in Los Angeles County with more than 500 people require masks, but the Academy could try to keep the list of attendees below that number.
The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that the Academy’s choice not to mandate vaccines is likely an effort to avoid conflict with some big name stars (emphasis ours):
Some industry insiders have speculated that the Academy is being less stringent than it could be because more than a few high-profile industry figures—including at least one of last year’s acting winners and prominent members of the casts of multiple best picture nominees, as well as nominees in other categories—would otherwise be precluded from attending the Oscars.
And while the trade magazine isn’t naming names, there have been more than a few anti-vaccine celebrities that have made their stances known over the past year, including Evangeline Lilly, Matthew McConaughey and Letitia Wright.
But the phrase “at least one of last year’s acting winners” doesn’t include anyone who’s made a big stink about covid-19 vaccines publicly. Last year’s acting winners included Anthony Hopkins, Daniel Kaluuya, Frances McDormand, and Yuh-Jung Youn, none of whom have criticized covid-19 vaccines to our knowledge. All that being said, the Academy may have to contend with other pro-vaccine stars who don’t want to attend an indoor event with people who refuse to get vaccinated against a serious disease.
The U.S. is currently seeing a decline in the number of covid-19 cases, with 229,059 new cases on Wednesday. But deaths remain high, with 3,450 new deaths yesterday alone, according to BNO News. Deaths are a lagging indicator and could remain high for some time, but everyone agrees that it’s great to see those case numbers really start to come down from the highs of just a few weeks ago.
But if we’ve learned anything about airborne disease during this pandemic, things can change quickly. And with a month and a half before Hollywood’s biggest awards show, we could be dealing with a new variant of concern. Nobody knows. And that’s the point. Get vaccinated because it’s the best change you’ve got at staying out of the hospital and potentially dying from covid-19.
And don’t listen to Hollywood stars who are trying to scare you into not getting vaccinated. The covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective. And they’re saving countless lives around the world each and every day.