By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current

ROCKFORD — Rockford Symphony Orchestra will require audience members to wear a facemask and show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken within 48 hours during its 2021/22 season.

Children younger than 12 must wear a mask and be accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult. A negative test will not be accepted when chaperoning a child.

“These measures are in place to protect everyone,” Rockford Symphony Orchestra Executive Director Julie Thomas said in a news release.  “By cooperating with the suggested protocols we can be confident that the 2021/22 RSO season will not be compromised and our patrons can once again gather to enjoy live music while feeling that we have done our part to protect them.”

The Rockford Area Venues and Entertainment Authority, which manages the BMO Harris Bank Center and Coronado Performing Arts Center, where RSO often performs, said this week that it would not enact blanket rules about vaccination. Instead, those decisions will be left to the promoters. RSO performs “The Last Night of the Proms” on Oct. 23 at Coronado.

“To help keep our patrons, musicians and staff healthy, our board considered many options and feels that our safety protocols are in the best interest of everyone. These measures align with orchestras across the nation,” Thomas said. “The RSO is committed to offering live musical experiences and we plan to evaluate these protocols regularly as the pandemic evolves.”

Related: Health officials recommend proof of vaccination or negative COVID test for large-scale events in Rockford

RSO partnered with the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford to provide testing for its musicians and staff on a regular basis.

RSO is also offering socially distanced seating in designated areas of the Coronado. Ticket buyers may call the RSO at 815-965-0049 to request socially distanced seating.

RSO will offer express passes for fully vaccinated patrons. Those passes are available in RSO offices starting today and can also be obtained at the Oct. 23 concert.

The week of Oct. 11-15 from noon to 2 p.m. there will be extra staff to help process express passes more efficiently, but they are available any day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  In order to receive a express pass, patrons must show a valid photo ID along with their vaccination card.

“We have received many positive comments from our patrons,” Thomas said. “They appreciate the efforts we are taking to ensure they are as safe as possible.”

This article is by Kevin Haas. Email him at or follow him on Twitter at @KevinMHaas or Instagram @thekevinhaas.