After a year filled with mandatory coronavirus safety protocols at major awards shows, many of which took place virtually, why didn't the 2021 Oscars attendees wear masks?

The 2021 Academy Awards took place in person at Union Station and the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday (April 15), but those in attendance were not required to wear face coverings. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was able to pull off a maskless Oscars by legally treating the event as a film or television production according to California state protocols, allowing for on-camera "talent" to appear maskless.

During the ceremony, Regina King addressed the 2021 Oscars mask policy. "You are probably asking how are we able to do this. Well, think of this as a movie set — an Oscars movie set with a cast of over 200 nominees," she said, explaining how attendees were social distancing and practicing other COVID-19 health and safety protocols. "We are following all of the rigorous protocols that got us back to work safely. When we're rolling, masks off, and when we're not rolling, masks on."

In addition, the 93rd Academy Award ceremony was vastly reduced to just 170 expected attendees instead of its usual thousands, making it a more intimate event.

The night's main awards were given out in the 161,000 square-foot Dolby Theatre, where social distanced guests were reported to be rotated in and out of the space as the night progressed. Winners who were unable to attend the event in person had the option to deliver their acceptance speeches virtually.

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