The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, which is reopening in September, will require audience members to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours before the show.

The Arts Partnership — made up of the Minnesota Opera, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Ordway and Schubert Club — also announced those in the audience will be required to wear a mask except while eating and drinking in the lobbies, according to a news release Tuesday. The news comes as the spread of the Delta variant has surged in Minnesota, sending many to hospitals.

"It was the right thing to do for our audience and for the safety of our staff and community," Christine Sagstetter, interim president and CEO at the Ordway, said Tuesday evening. The decision was made jointly by the members of the Arts Partnership.

"This is the beginning," Sagstetter said of the spread of the Delta variant. "We all have to be willing to adjust and respond appropriately."

The mask protocol follows guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that people should wear a mask indoors regardless of vaccination status.

Attendance at the Ordway also will be limited to 50% capacity to allow for social distancing.

If ticket holders do not meet the requirements, test positive for the coronavirus or are uncomfortable attending the performance, tickets can be exchanged for another performance, donated or refunded with no fee or penalties, according to the release.

The Ordway's reopening will mark the first in-person indoor shows at the venue in more than 18 months.

"In preparation for welcoming audiences back into the building as safely as possible, the Ordway has upgraded its air filtration system to increase air flow and bring in more outside air and has installed high-efficiency MERV 13 air filters," according to the Ordway's website. "It has also implemented enhanced cleaning practices throughout the building."

Proof of vaccination can be shown by bringing in the physical card or showing a digital photo of it, according to the Ordway's website. A negative test result can be shown by bringing in a print or digital copy.

"We're thankful to our audiences and supporters for doing their part to help keep our community healthy," Ryan Taylor, president of the Arts Partnership and president and general director of Minnesota Opera, said in the release.

Alex Chhith • 612-673-4759