As first revealed to Vulture by Lorne Michaels on September 16, season 46 of Saturday Night Live will, in fact, have a live, in-studio audience when it returns on October 3, pandemic be damned. “We’ve been getting support from the governor’s office, which is important because the audience is a huge part of it. Also, us coming back and accomplishing the show will lead to — I hate to use the word normalcy — but it’s a thing that is part of our lives coming back, in whatever form it ends up coming back,” Michaels said. “So the physical problems of doing it — number of people who can be in the studio, number of people who can be in the control room, how you separate the band so that they’re not in any jeopardy — all of those are part of the meetings we’ve been having.” But how, exactly, does NBC plan to safely welcome audience members back to Studio 8H at a time like this? Well, now we have an answer.
Typically, SNL fans obtain tickets to dress rehearsals or live shows in one of two ways: by applying to the annual SNL ticket lottery or by waiting in the standby line outside 30 Rock for a specific episode. This year’s SNL ticket lottery closed at the end of August, and the show announced a new approach to audience tickets last night that will, at least for now, replace the standby-line option. On September 27, SNL posted a link on Twitter and Instagram making a limited number of tickets available for this week’s dress rehearsal and live show. (The posts have since been deleted.) The ticket links were split into two categories — health-care workers and the general public — and the general-public tickets have already sold out for both performances.
The website to claim tickets also revealed “COVID-19 Policies” for the audience, outlining the various precautions NBC will take with guests per government requirements. The policies include a “mandatory” COVID test, temperature checks, mask wearing at all times, and a COVID-related questionnaire. Here’s the full rundown:
Please request tickets for you and anyone you consider to be a part of your “social bubble.” A “social bubble” is defined as a group of people, related or unrelated, who have repeatedly entered into close contact (defined as <6 feet) with all others in that group, on multiple occasions prior to the night of the show.
All ticket applicants should request either 2, 7, 8 or 9 tickets, depending upon the size of your “social bubble.” Please note that all people for whom you’ve requested tickets must come to the show, in order for any of you to be seated.
If selected for tickets, the following rules/guidelines will apply:
• All guests will be required to take a mandatory COVID-19 test upon arrival. This is a self-administered lower nasal antigen test with results yielded before the show.
• Temperature checks will also be required at check in.
• Face coverings/masks are required at all times while inside the building — no bandanas, no gaiters, no masks with vents will be allowed.
• All audience members will be asked a series of questions prior to admission:
- Are you exhibiting any symptoms related to COVID-19?
- Have you exhibited any symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 14 days?
- Have you had a positive COVID-19 test within the past 14 days?
- 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?
- Have you traveled to any of the following states in the past 14 days? Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming (list updated as of 9/26/20; list changes, based on NY State guidance).
Please note anyone who has a temperature of 100.4 or higher will not be allowed admission, and the party may not be granted admission either. A positive COVID-19 test for any member of your group will result in the entire group not being granted admission.
Saturday Night Live hasn’t announced how many audience members will be welcomed into Studio 8H for the premiere, but we’ll find out very soon: Season 46 debuts this Saturday, October 3, with host Chris Rock and musical guest Megan Thee Stallion, all of last season’s cast members, and three new featured players.