LENOX — While the scenic Tanglewood grounds will be open to visitors this summer, the concertgoing experience will be very different as the Boston Symphony Orchestra management confronts potentially shifting health and safety guidance that will limit the size of audiences and restrict all performances to the Koussevitzky Music Shed and its Lawn.
The programming announcement released Thursday for the six-week season (July 9-Aug. 16) is based on precautions developed by 9 Foundations, which provides strategic healthy buildings solutions through its team of Harvard-affiliated medical and engineering specialists.
Planning is based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state and Berkshire authorities, including the Tri-Town Health Department.
The guidelines will include updated capacity limits based on the course of the coronavirus pandemic before and during the summer. Tanglewood will remain flexible, according to the BSO’s announcement, and will consider adjusting its reopening plan if possible, based on health and safety guidelines.
Also, any recommendations from the CDC and the state for more stringent public-gathering guidelines could cause the orchestra to modify its announced plans for Tanglewood.
If there are government-mandated changes involving capacity limits and physical distancing affecting assigned seating, it is unclear at this time if the general public will be able to select its own seats when public sale begins May 17, an option currently available to donors, who can purchase tickets during the pre-sale period leading up to May 17.
If the select-your-own=seats option becomes available, when health and safety conditions and ticket availability become clearer, the BSO will update patrons. Ticket delivery will be delayed until June, in order to accommodate possible changes in physical distancing policies and to seat patrons accordingly.
Here are other key takeaways in place for the season:
• Physically distanced audiences in the Shed and on the Lawn will be masked, and other precautions include hand hygiene, increased air filtration and ventilation, enhanced cleaning and sanitation.
• To meet the distancing requirement, seats in the Shed will be left empty between ticket-holder parties. Physical distancing on the Lawn will be aided by complimentary lawn coverings sized to help establish appropriate separation between all lawn parties.
• At present, the BSO does not anticipate requiring proof of vaccination for entrance to the Tanglewood grounds, though the organization will continue to monitor the recommendations and will provide updates as the season approaches.
• There will be no appearances by vocal soloists or choral groups, because of coronavirus concerns.
• With reduced schedules and crowds, parking will be in lots closest to the Koussevitzky Music Shed off West Street (Route 183) in Lenox, as well as in pass-holder reserved lots for donors, accessible from Tanglewood Drive. The Lions Gate and Lions Gate parking lot on Hawthorne Road in Stockbridge will not be open.
• The BSO will implement a no-smoking policy throughout the Tanglewood grounds.
Updates for ticket buyers will be posted at tanglewood.org/safety and on the orchestra’s social media platforms. On a date ahead of the season, ticket buyers can attend an online town hall session on a date to be announced, offering further guidance.