People in the audience of Saturday Night Live during the show's 46th season will have to be tested for COVID-19 and wear masks. This move shouldn't surprise anyone since the coronavirus pandemic is still ongoing. Having an audience at all -- not to mention performing the show back in studio 8h -- is already a step towards normalcy since the previous season aired several shows produced remotely with the stars quarantined in their homes and performing via video chat services. The COVID-19 tests are administered before dress rehearsals and live shows. According to the Saturday Night Live ticket site, "This is a self-administered lower nasal antigen test with results yielded before the show." There will also be temperature tests for anyone checking in at 30 Rock.
Audience members will be questioned ahead of admission. Questions include, "Are you exhibiting any symptoms related to COVID-19?", "Have you exhibited any symptoms to COVID-19 in the last 14 days?", and "Have you been in close contact with anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, or anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19, within the past 14 days?"
Anyone with a temperature 100.4 or higher will not be permitted to be a part of the audience. Others in their party may also be given the same treatment. "A positive COVID-19 test for any member of your group will result in the entire group not being granted admission." That group can include up to 8 people from the purchaser's "social bubble." Despite these restrictions, tickets for this Saturday's premiere, with host Chris Rock and musical guest Megan Three Stallion, are sold out.
In September, Saturday Night Live star Kyle Mooney discussed expectations for the show's return to Studio 8h. “I think we’re gonna try to do as close to the real thing as we can, in a safe way, so I think that means tests, and all that comes with it. I think they’re still figuring it out, and I think there’s a lot to figure out, but they have us all in their best interest. I’m assuming I’ll get to see everybody.”
As for the remote episodes, Mooney said, “It was, at times, a cool change of pace, but you can’t take anything away from collaborating and just being near these people who inspire you and inspire fun ideas. I truly don’t know what the show will look like, as it is, so maybe we’ll still be able to do stuff kind of on our own. I don’t really know how it’ll work, but I’m excited, generally, just because as a fan, I think it’ll be an intriguing thing to see.”
Saturday Night Live returns to NBC on October 3rd.