Tanglewood Grounds

Regulations approved Thursday by the Tri-Town Health Department clear the way for a higher limit of 9,000 people combined in the open-air Koussevitzky Music Shed and on the lawn at Tanglewood.

Attendance at Tanglewood will be capped at 9,000 this summer, in accordance with regulations approved Thursday by the Tri-Town Health Department.

The move clears the way for the Boston Symphony Orchestra to double the previous limit of 4,500 combined in the open-air Koussevitzky Music Shed and on the lawn. Additional tickets are expected to be put on sale, with a total of 2,500 seats available in the Shed and 6,500 on the lawn.

The Lenox and Stockbridge Boards of Health, as Tri-Town Health Department members, unanimously approved the measure limiting capacity of large outdoor events to 9,000, through Sept. 1.

During a brief public hearing Thursday morning, Tri-Town Executive Director James Wilusz said the regulation was crafted with the involvement and endorsement of town counsels for Lenox and Stockbridge. It was adopted in response to Gov. Charlie Baker having lifted most pandemic restrictions as of Saturday.

There was no public comment during the remote Zoom meeting.

“We crafted the regulation to limit capacity at outdoor venues and cap it at 9,000,” Wilusz said. He noted that Baker “abruptly changed direction” May 17, accelerating the lifting of restrictions to May 29 from the original target of Aug. 1.

“That left very little opportunity to slowly reopen,” Wilusz said.

“There are some concerns and challenges going from limited capacity to full capacity,” he said, noting that the governor’s previous plan to reopen Aug. 1 would not have given time to analyze vaccination rates as they increased, along with the expected decline in COVID-19 cases.

The regulation adopted Thursday, which overrides state guidance, applies to large-capacity outdoor venues in Lenox and Stockbridge, notably the BSO’s summer festival at Tanglewood, which runs from July 9 to Aug. 16.

Baker’s team had made it clear that local health boards had the jurisdiction to modify the governor’s reopening recommendations, as permitted by state law.

The BSO’s management had welcomed the proposed new regulations from the Stockbridge and Lenox health boards when they were unveiled May 26.

Dr. Charles Kenny, chairman of the Stockbridge Board of Health, and members Henry Schwerner and Rae Williams voted in favor of the Tri-Town regulations, as did Lenox Board of Health Chairwoman Dianne Romeo and members Dr. Noel Blagg and Dr. John Kearns.

The 9,000 cap represents 50 percent of Tanglewood’s capacity. Some scheduled performances, including those featuring Yo-Yo Ma and John Williams, had been sold out because of the previous limit of 4,500 tickets.

Tanglewood, which mostly is in Stockbridge, except for a small portion off West Street in Lenox, has a crowd limit of 18,000, which typically is reached when James Taylor performs.

His Tanglewood date is set for Aug. 31, but it’s not known whether any additional tickets will be made available, since an estimated 15,000, already held by purchasers for his postponed July 4, 2020, appearance will be honored for this summer’s show.

Two other Popular Artists bookings, both postponed last summer, are currently listed on the Tanglewood website: Brandi Carlile on Aug. 21, and NPR’s “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” quiz show, on Aug 26. Patrons holding tickets for the original performances postponed last year will be accommodated on the new dates.

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com, on Twitter

@BE_cfanto or at 413-637-2551.