Producers of Broadway shows are adjusting their reopening plans to now require that all audience members—as well as anyone working at the theaters—must be vaccinated. This decision comes as city and state governments, as well as the federal government, will require that employees be vaccinated (or be tested for COVID weekly), and more businesses formalize their own vaccine mandates.
Patrons will also be required to wear masks inside the theater, except when eating or drinking in certain sections.
“As vaccination has proven the most effective way to stay healthy and reduce transmission, I’m pleased that the theatre owners have decided to implement these collective safeguards at all our Broadway houses,” Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League, said in a statement. “A uniform policy across all New York City Broadway theatres makes it simple for our audiences and should give even more confidence to our guests about how seriously Broadway is taking audience safety.”
Children under age 12 who are not yet eligible for vaccines as well as “people with a medical condition or closely held religious belief that prevents vaccination” may present proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of the performance, the Broadway League added.
Ticket holders for shows through October 31st, 2021 will soon be notified by the theater owners; the group may review and potentially relax policies “if the science dictates.”
The highly transmissible delta variant, now the dominant strain in New York City, is contributing to the national increase in COVID cases and hospitalizations. Hospitalizations, according to studies, are almost entirely made up of unvaccinated Americans.
More companies are revising their plans for returning to work; the New York Times announced Friday that they would delay their originally planned September return-to-office and also require all employees voluntarily working in the office to be vaccinated.
On Thursday, influential restaurateur Danny Meyer said all customers and staff at his restaurants in New York City and Washington, D.C. would need to be vaccinated. In an interview with the Washington Post, Meyer pointed out that restaurants do not want to go back to lockdowns and capacity restrictions, “Restaurants are the biggest employer in the country — they have a huge economic impact — and we just can’t go backward.”
Theater owners feel similarly: Nick Sandalios of the Nederlander Organization—shows at its theaters include Wicked, The Lion King, SIX, and Tina—said, “With these procedures in place and recognizing the high vaccination rates among NYC audiences, Broadway continues to make safety our priority. As we get ready for Broadway’s big comeback, the entire theatre community is committed to the highest level of public health standards. We’re all eager to welcome our many patrons and fans back to the magic of Broadway.”