SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A Capital Region music venue can’t eliminate its COVID-19 vaccine requirement just yet. Caffè Lena in Saratoga Springs needs to renegotiate the contracts with its performers first.

Caffè Lena specifically has a COVID addendum in each of their artist contracts, detailing its safety protocols. The venue’s current COVID guidelines include:

  • All audience members, open mic performers, as well as staff and volunteers, need to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Booster shots are not required.
  • Masks are optional.
  • Vaccinations are not required at Little Folks Concerts or Folk Club Kids or at Caffè Lena School of Music Youth Track programs.
  • Portable HEPA filtration units are used in the performance space. The units run before, after and during the performance. UV lighting has been installed in the HVAC ducts.

“We need to check in with all the bands before changing the protocols we agreed on,” said Sarah Craig, Executive Director of Caffè Lena. “There are about 60 to 75 shows booked that will require a discussion. I would imagine that in many cases the artists will be happy to modify the protocols, but there could be exceptions.”

Craig said the contract renegotiation process is underway but will take between one and two months. “What we want to avoid is inconsistency, because that causes confusion all round. We want to either require vaccination always or never.”

Caffè Lena was closed to in-person ticket buyers from March 14, 2020, to April 2, 2021. During that time, Craig said artists performed via live stream rather than in-person. When shows went back to in-person, the turn-out was small, but now the venue is filling up again.

“We’re selling out shows without unvaccinated patrons attending. Our motivation to change the protocols is simply to get back to normal now that it seems safer to do so. Of course, if the public health situation changes again, we’ll respond accordingly,” said Craig.

Other performance venues in the Capital Region are also changing their COVID protocols. As of February 28, visitors at Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany, Proctors in Schenectady, and Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs are no longer required to show proof of vaccination. However, they still need to wear masks.

At Putnam Place in Saratoga Springs, visitors are also no longer required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. Masks aren’t required either. However, the venue specifies that artists could still require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test at their shows. Craig said that some venues may not have had a COVID addendum as part of their contracts.

“We are very motivated to keep our artists safe. They are out on tour for the first time in a couple years. They are playing all over the country, including in areas that still have COVID problems,” said Craig. “They cannot afford to get sick on tour because it means they lose the rest of their shows and be out a ton of money.”

“Nobody likes these restrictions,” said Craig. “They’re a necessity in order to keep live music alive.”