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Virginia’s Birchmere Music Hall Is Dropping Its Vaccination Mandate to Accommodate Travis Tritt

The country singer cancelled shows at other venues that didn't share his stance against mask and vax requirements.

Photograph courtesy of Flickr user Ralph Arvesen.

You can’t accuse Travis Tritt of being coy about his opinion of mask mandates, vaccination requirements, or compulsory testing protocols: He’s against them.

On his website, the country-music artist announced last month that he’d cancelled four shows at venues where tests, shots, or masks were required. “Any venue or promoter mandating masks, requiring vaccinations, or pushing COVID testing protocols on my fans will not be tolerated,” Tritt said, explaining that “this is a sacrifice that I’m willing to make to stand up for the freedoms that generations of Americans have enjoyed.”

The list of Tritt cancellations includes venues in Muncie, Indiana; Peoria, Illinois; Louisville, Kentucky; and Philadelphia, Mississippi.

One place that’s not on the list: Alexandria, Virginia, where Tritt is slated to play shows in January at the famous Birchmere music hall.

This might surprise concert-goers who visit the Birchmere’s website, where the home page announces that the venue would, as of August, require either a vaccination or a negative test from within the previous 72 hours.

What gives? It turns out that the club is not applying those rules to Tritt’s two shows, slated for January 17 and 18. “I can’t get political or take a side here. I’m trying to stay in business,” said Birchmere owner Gary Oelze, who has been running the venue for 55 years. “Believe me, the clubs are having a rough time doing that.”

Oelze noted that the Birchmere has also hosted several acts who asked attendees to keep their masks on “even when the people were seated at the dinner table, and we obliged that.” He also noted the staff is fully vaccinated and wears masks.

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