The Oscars Will Only Require Covid Vaccines For Certain Attendees In What Is Surely A Bad Decision

The 2022 Oscars are sure shaping up to be, uh, something, huh? Then again, when hasn't the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences been more than a little chaotic when it comes to how it runs its annual awards show? Even so, it's somehow managed to step up its devotion to bad (or, if not that, then certainly questionable) ideas this year, between hiring Regina Hall, Amy Schumer, and Wanda Sykes to split hosting duties, letting Twitter pick a fan-favorite movie for the Oscars, and its definitely-not-at-all-unsafe decision to not make Covid vaccinations mandatory for everyone who attends the event.

As it turns out, though, vaccines will, in fact, be required for some Oscar attendees, but not for others (which also totally sounds like a not-at-all-bad idea). Per The New York Times, the Academy has determined that Oscar nominees and their invited guests must show proof of vaccination before attending, on top of testing negative at least two times via a PCR test. However, those who are either performing or presenting at the ceremony are not required to provide evidence of vaccination, although they will be tested "rigorously" at the show.

Why the bizarre, selective, vaccine mandate? According to a source for Variety, the decision to not require Oscar presenters and performers to give proof of vaccination "falls under the COVID-19 return-to-work agreement between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and unions." As the outlet goes on to explain, "The agreement gives production companies the option to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for Zone A — the production's cast and the crew working closest with the actors — but it is not a requirement."

Half-measures aren't enough

Where the 2021 iteration of the event took place at Los Angeles' Union Station, the 2022 Oscars ceremony will be limited to 2,500 nominees and guests at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, which is capable of seating more than 3,300 people. Yet again, though, the safety measures being put into place seem dubious at best and outright hazardous at worst, as those seated in the orchestra and parterre sections of the theater will not be required to wear facial masks. Those in the mezzanine, on the other hand, will likely (and rightly) have to follow a fairly strictly-enforced masking policy due to them being seated in a much tighter arrangement.

Look, I get that Covid numbers are generally on the decline after the massive spike in new cases caused by omicron (even in more densely-populated areas like Los Angeles), but that doesn't mean these half-measures are enough. The Academy has taken steps to better lead by example in recent years by diversifying its ranks and trying to recognize a wider range of movies and artists with its Oscar nominations, including those that hail from outside the U.S. Point being, it has a chance to use this year's Oscars ceremony to remind everyone that the pandemic is still very much ongoing (and trust me, I'm tired of it, too), yet its refusal to fully commit to both a mask and vaccine mandate just feels like it's sending the wrong message — on top of being more-than-slightly risky, given the sheer number of attendees.

The Oscars will air March 27, 2022.