It's official: masks will be optional inside all 41 Broadway theaters this July.
The change in policy was made public by the Broadway League earlier today. Masks have been mandatory inside venues since Broadway theaters reopened last summer.
[Update: Since this article was published, two Broadway productions, American Buffalo and The Minutes, have announced that they will continue to require masks at their performances.]
According to an official press release, protocols for August and beyond will be "evaluated on a monthly basis" and announced mid-month.
"Millions of people enjoyed the unique magic of Broadway by watching the 75th Tony Award ceremony recently," said Charlotte St. Martin, the president of the Broadway League, in an official statement about the news. "Millions more have experienced Broadway LIVE in theaters in New York City and throughout the U.S., since we reopened last fall. We’re thrilled to welcome even more of our passionate fans back to Broadway in the exciting 22-23 season that has just begun."
The updated policies follow an announcement about vaccine protocols from last month. Beginning at the end of May, a vast majority of theaters stopped checking whether patrons were vaccinated upon entry.
Overall, Broadway theaters have been some of the last institutions to get rid of the mask mandate. New Yorkers dining at restaurants, using public transportation and visiting museums and galleries have been abiding to "mask optional" guidances for quite a few months now.
The topic has generated heated conversations within the theater industry and beyond. Who can forget the time Patti LuPone reprimanded a spectator for not fully covering her mouth and nose with a mask during a post-Company talk, for example?
Whether the change in policy will affect COVID-19-related numbers is yet to be seen, but one thing is certain: we're excited for a semblance of normalcy to peek through in New York once more.