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Photograph: Courtesy Broadway Buskers

It's happening! NYC entertainment venues can reopen next month

Up to 100 people can be inside with testing and mask-wearing.

By
Shaye Weaver
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It's been a long, hard year without NYC's incredible art and entertainment venues. Many of them—Peoples Improv Theater, Copacabana, 21 Club—have had to close their doors and others are on the brink of shutting down.

And as we reach a year under this pandemic, with New York City's average weekly positivity rate at 7.44%, Governor Andrew Cuomo has decided that it's now time to reopen event, arts and entertainment venues.

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On Wednesday, the governor announced that these venues can reopen starting April 2 at 33% capacity—up to 100 people indoors and up to 200 people outdoors.

If a venue wants to bump up the capacity to 150 inside and to 500 outside, all attendees must test negative before they enter. And of course, everyone has to wear a mask and social distance. 

Before then, starting March 22, social gatherings of up to 100 people can happen inside and outdoor gatherings of up to 200 people will be allowed. Residential gatherings (like at your home) can happen for groups of up to 25 people outdoors, but indoor gatherings must remain capped at 10 people.

"New Yorkers have done a tremendous job working to defeat COVID, and we're gradually loosening restrictions as the numbers reduce and the public health improves," Cuomo said. "It's clear that if we remain vigilant, we will reach the light at the end of the tunnel. While we continue to expand access to the vaccine throughout the state, New Yorkers should double down on the behaviors that make such an important different fighting this pandemic—washing hands, wearing masks and social distancing. This is a tough footrace, but the infection rate is down and the vaccination rate is up, and New Yorkers will get through this together as long as we stay touch and keep this momentum heading in the right direction."

Already, concert venues and sports arenas around the state were allowed to reopen for events on February 23 and movie theaters were given the OK to reopen on Friday at 25% capacity. The city's institutions have begun to announce outdoor performances for the spring, including Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts under the Restart Stages initiative. And weddings can resume starting March 15 so long as they are capped at 150 people and follow certain guidelines, including the use of "dance zones."

Unfortunately, all of this does not mean that Broadway is reopening. Those shows aren't likely to open until after Labor Day.

But according to The New York Times, producers Scott Rudin and Jane Rosenthal are looking at launching pop-up programs inside Broadway theaters and at nonprofit venues, including the Apollo Theater, the Park Avenue Armory, St. Ann’s Warehouse, the Shed, Harlem Stage, La MaMa, and the National Black Theater.

Finally, some semblance of normalcy can return and performers can start making a living again.

"We’ve really been deprived of making a living," comedy club Stand Up NY owner Dani Zoldan told CBSN New York. "We’ll do temperature checks, and we’ll probably even do COVID testing for comics."

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