Broadway theaters plan to return to performances this fall, now with strict COVID-19 requirements for audiences and performers. The Broadway League, the group of producers and theater owners that oversees the industry, announced today that all 41 theaters in New York will “require vaccinations for audience members, as well as performers, backstage crew, and theatre staff, for all performances through October 2021.” Audiences will also be required to wear masks inside theaters, “except while eating or drinking in designated locations.”
Broadway productions previously announced plans to resume earlier this summer, with the triplet of headlining juggernauts Wicked, The Lion King, and Hamilton all starting up on September 14. Some other productions have moved into houses even earlier — Springsteen on Broadway jumped into things in late June; the first play back Pass Over will have its first performance August 4 — while others are holding off until later in the season when things may presumably be more stable (Hugh Jackman’s Music Man will start December 20). Some productions, like Pass Over, had already announced vaccination and masking requirements, but the uniform application is intended to simplify matters, and is also a sign of concerns about the spread of the Delta variant. “A uniform policy across all New York City Broadway theaters makes it simple for our audiences and should give even more confidence to our guests about how seriously Broadway is taking audience safety,” Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, said in a statement.
Under the policy, audience members will need to be at least 14 days out from the second dose of a two-dose vaccine or the first dose of a one-dose one. Exceptions are made for children under 12, who are not yet vaccine-eligible, and for those “with a medical condition or closely held religious belief that prevents vaccination.” In that case, they must show proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the start of a performance, or a negative antigen test taken within six hours.