DULUTH – Renegade Theater Company will require proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative test to attend its performances at Zeitgeist Teatro Zuccone.

The 120-seat theater in Duluth's Historic Arts and Theater District is reopening with a run of "Daddy Long Legs" next week after 18 months of pandemic closure.

The theater had heard from patrons concerned about attending shows in its small space, said Tony Cuneo, executive director of Zeitgeist, the nonprofit arts and community development organization that operates the theater.

"For us, the barrier is so small," Cuneo said, with the option for the unvaccinated to obtain readily available tests. "We didn't feel like we were adding anything insurmountable."

Cuneo said they studied how First Avenue in Minneapolis rolled out its own similar policy. The theater, inside the Zeitgeist Arts Building, will also require universal masking and will limit its audience to 88. It appears to be the first arts venue in Duluth to announce these requirements.

When Broadway in New York announced its decision to require the shot, "it just seemed like a great way for people to feel safe in a space again," and incentivize others, said Mary Fox, Renegade's artistic director. "Zeitgeist is a beautiful community hub in Duluth, so setting that example is really great."

Fox said the cast, crew and musicians are all vaccinated and are regularly tested.

St. Louis County is deemed at a "substantial risk" of COVID transmission with an uptick in cases due to the contagious delta variant, county health officials have said. As of Friday, 212 cases have been reported in the county this month. There were 255 reported in July.

The University of Minnesota, including the Duluth campus, will require vaccination of its students once the U.S. Food and Drug Administration fully approves shots, with the Board of Regents giving its approval Friday. Faculty and staff must either get vaccinated or agree to regular testing. Both Essentia Health and St. Luke's hospital have upcoming vaccine requirements for employees.Jana Hollingsworth • 218-508-2450