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Britt has every right to require vaccinations

The Britt Music & Arts Festival is completely within its rights to require concertgoers to provide proof of vaccination or a negative test for COVID to be admitted. We applaud the decision.

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Britt had previously required attendees to wear masks at all times unless actively eating and drinking. That quickly proved to be futile at the ZZ Top show after the policy was announced. Patrons dutifully wore their masks through the gate, then most removed them for the duration of the concert.

In fairness to Britt staff, it would have been nearly impossible to strictly enforce the mask rule at a sold-out show.

The vaccination / negative test requirement is different — and far more effective in preventing infection among those attending. The enforcement takes place outside, before entry. No vaccine card or negative test, no admission. It’s as simple as that. The new rule begins Saturday with the Pink Martini show.

Britt is not offering refunds, which is hardly surprising given the minor miracle that the festival is even mounting a season this year.

Britt will go the extra mile, however, and provide a quick-test station outside the gate the day before and the day of each show. Patrons who test positive for the virus will be given credit toward a future show.

Naturally, some patrons are outraged while others defend the decision. The announcement on the Britt Festival Facebook page had garnered nearly 400 comments by midafternoon Tuesday.

How dare Britt enact such a policy, some commenters fume. It’s an outdoor venue.

Yes. And the delta variant is many times more contagious than previous variants, making it more likely to spread outdoors, especially when people are in close proximity without the ability to maintain social distancing.

Other commenters complain that if Britt is offering tests, then those who are vaccinated should have to get tested, too.

Why not? Simple, really. Yes, it is possible for vaccinated people to spread the virus, although the chances are much less. And unvaccinated people shouldn’t be attending Britt events anyway, for their own safety.

But the mask requirement will remain in place, which adds a measure of safety — if people comply.

Need a little extra incentive? Gov. Kate Brown on Tuesday issued a new mandate that people wear masks at outdoor events where distancing is not possible. That means Britt.

Before taking out frustrations on Britt and its volunteers, realize that vaccine requirements are becoming more common at major entertainment venues across the country, often at the request of performers.

Concert promotion company Live Nation announced this month a new policy that lets performing artists require vaccinations or negative tests for admission to their shows. Britt also noted in its announcement that many of its artists encouraged the new policy.

And let’s get one thing straight. This is not an infringement on anyone’s rights.

Don’t want to comply with the new rules? You have the freedom to choose not to attend.

Britt is not obligated to allow entry to anyone if doing so increases the risk of spreading a deadly virus.