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9 things to know so you can keep rockin’ with new concert COVID rules

Les Schwab Amphitheater 1600 modest mouse

Evolving pandemic rules have kept us all on our toes, which makes it tough to dance. But groovin’ on your tippy toes is better than spreading COVID, which is why the Les Schwab Amphitheater updated its concert protocols to keep us safe.

New COVID protocols at the Les Schwab Amphitheater are aimed at keeping us all safe. Photo by Matthew Lasala

Today is September 1, meaning we’ve got 16 shows left in the Les Schwab Amphitheater’s biggest season ever. With the spread of the Delta variant and a hospital system screaming for help, here’s how you can keep rockin’ the rest of the season.


What’s new?

Beginning August 29, 2021, anyone 12 and over attending a show at the Les Schwab Amphitheater must show proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID test. Additionally––in accordance with Oregon’s new outdoor mask mandate––concertgoers must wear masks when social distancing isn’t possible.



Yep, it’s a switch from when I wrote this post in July. Back then, we thought we were on track to beat this COVID thing with vaccines and social distancing, but along came Delta and…well, you know the rest. 

Or maybe you don’t?

Go here to see scenes from our local hospital, which is stretched to a breaking point with COVID patients and has literally called in the National Guard. Follow the Deschutes County Health Department on Facebook to see daily updates filled with surging COVID cases. It’s a far cry from where we were two months ago, and we can argue ‘til we’re blue in the face about whose fault it is.

But to get past it––and to keep enjoying outdoor concerts while we do it––we all need to do our part by masking, vaxing, testing, and staying the heck away from each other no matter how much we might wish to lick a stranger’s face at the John Legend concert.

You may need to unmask briefly when showing ID for alcohol, so seize the chance to smile at strangers. It’s the Bend way.
Photo by Matthew Lasala

Got it? Good. Let’s get to details.


Give me the nitty-gritty.

Like you, I had lots of questions about the new rules. Like, can I show a digital copy of my vax card, or do I need the original? (Answer: digital’s fine). 

And can I take off my mask to chug beer, or should I pour the IPA through the cloth? (Answer: Ditch the mask to drink or eat. Also, ew). 

Here’s more of the inside scoop:

  • Concertgoers 12 and older at the Les Schwab Amphitheater must bring proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result they have received in the 72 hours preceding the show. There are two exceptions to this for concerts requiring tests in a different time-frame. That’s the Dave Matthews Band show Sept. 8 and the My Morning Jacket show Oct. 3, both of which require the negative COVID test within 48 hours of the show.
  • Adult concertgoers’ proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or negative COVID-19 test result must match the name on their ID.
  • Screenshots or other digital copies of either a negative COVID-19 test result or full COVID-19 vaccination is acceptable for entry if the name on the digital proof matches the name on the concertgoer’s ID.

Need more details? Go here to read more, and for a link to local testing sites.


How about kiddos?

Excellent question, and it brings up something that makes me grateful for how the venue is rolling with change. You may recall the initial announcement specified kiddos under 12 would need COVID tests to enter. But it turns out that’s tricky with local testing sites overwhelmed and reluctant to test folks who aren’t symptomatic.

Rules for COVID testing/vaccines for kiddos are a bit different, so make sure you read up on regulations before attending a concert with kiddos in tow.
Photo by Matthew Lasala

So the Les Schwab Amphitheater updated the rules, making it so concertgoers 11 and under––those not eligible for a vaccine––can attend shows without proof of a negative test. That’s as long as they mask up for the entire show when not eating or drinking. 

Kiddos under 5 can skip the mask, though it’s still recommended to do it for safety’s sake (and yeah, I know it’s tough to keep a mask on a toddler––my 3yo nephew is proof, but do your best).


When do I need the mask?

The short answer is that you must mask up anytime you can’t keep six feet of distance between you and anyone who’s not in your family group.

The long answer is…it varies.

In congested spots like entry gates and drink lines, strap that mask on nice and tight. To get through the gate, you must show you’re aware that a mask is meant to cover nose and mouth and not serve as a decorative chinstrap.

Once you’re inside, it depends on the crowd.

Last Sunday’s Modest Mouse show (which rocked, by the way) drew a smaller audience than you’ll see at sold out shows. While I had no problem finding a wide patch of grass with no one near, that won’t be the case at packed concerts like Dave Matthews Band and Luke Bryan. Those shows also don’t allow chairs and we’ll all be squeezed in tighter. In cases like those, keep the mask on the whole time except when eating or drinking.

With all this said, no one wants to play mask police. The rules aren’t there to make you itchy or hot or grumpy enough to argue with some minimum wage kid selling soda. The rules are there to keep our community safe. It’s the Bend way to look out for one another, so mask up and do your part.

Masking while in the entry lines is vital, as social distancing isn’t possible then.
Photo by Matthew Lasala

I’m kinda stressed…walk me through the steps?

I’ll admit I felt nervous running the entry gauntlet for my first show with the new protocol. That’s why I was thrilled to discover how seamless it was. Guys, the Les Schwab peeps thought of everything, and they’re patient with those of us still learning.

While steps may vary from show to show, here’s what to expect as you head in to rock your socks off:


  1. Mask on, it’s go time! Entry lines may be long, making social distancing tough. Plan on keeping that mask in place as you move through the line to get inside.
  2. Get measured. If this isn’t the Dave Matthews Band or Luke Bryant show where chairs aren’t allowed, you’re toting your low-backed chair as you approach the gate. Security staff may approach with tape measures to make sure your chair is no taller than 33”. Pass the test, get a tag for your chair, and keep moving.
  3. Bust out those cards. Next stop: COVID checkpoint. This is where you’ll whip out that vaccine card or proof of your negative COVID test. You’ll also need to show a photo ID that matches, so have it ready as you approach the table.
  4. It’s bag check time. Unrelated to COVID, new security precautions mean backpacks and purses aren’t allowed. Only clear plastic bags no larger than 12” by 6” by 12” can get through the gate, and no blankets can, either. Have your clear bag ready to be searched, and make sure water bottles are empty.
  5. Time for the metal detector. Once you’ve passed the bag check, prepare for security to sweep you with a wand. They’re looking for weapons more than that flask of Jameson stashed in your underwear, but neither is allowed. Leave that stuff at home and keep the line moving.
  6. Flash that ticket. New this year (and awfully handy!) is the electronic ticket system to minimize touch points and the need to dig through pockets for that paper ticket you’re pretty sure you printed last week. Just flash the ticket on your phone (not a screenshot, the actual ticket), get scanned, and get in.
  7. Find your spot and enjoy the music. Congratulations! You’ve run the gauntlet that’s now required for most sporting events and concerts around the state, so relax, grab a drink, and enjoy the show.


What if I have more questions?

You’ll find answers to all sorts of frequently asked questions here. If you still have questions, you can email for help.

Who’s ready to get out there and groove? Photo by Matthew Lasala

What if I want to be a butthead?

Sorry, buttheadery is not allowed in Bend. It’s city code. 

Be kind, considerate, and grateful we can still enjoy live music despite a raging pandemic. We’re in this together, so spread kindness instead of germs.


What if I want to feel good about humanity?

While I spotted some social media snark about the new concert protocol, the reality was much smoother. Honestly, watching the first rollout of the

new rules warmed the cockles of my heart. 

Ticket takers and bag checkers were patient and kind. Concertgoers were cooperative and prepared. Folks wore masks when close together, and I saw no one screaming insults at others.

What the folks at Les Schwab Amphitheater have pulled off on short notice is nothing short of miraculous. We owe them a big round of applause for keeping us movin’ and groovin’ despite evolving COVID risks and rules. 

Let’s look for the bright spots in this and move past the part where we’re all a bit bummed to still be fighting this thing 18 months later. Let’s dance and sing and savor the sunset sparkles on the Deschutes as the sun sinks behind the new stage. 

Stay safe out there, and enjoy the show!

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