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NYC will help vaccinate theater workers to prepare for Broadway's return

The city announced plans for vaccinations, testing sites and crowd management on Thursday.

By
Shaye Weaver
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There's finally a light at the end of the tunnel for theater workers.

On Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan to bring back the theater industry safely, which includes plans for vaccinations, testing sites and crowd management.  

Broadway and theaters, in general, have been dark for over a year now and won't likely reopen until the fall. That being said, "it is time to raise the curtain and bring Broadway back," the mayor said.

What will this look like?

The city's plan includes building a dedicated vaccination site on Broadway for theater workers, adding a mobile unit for Off-Broadway, doing pop-up testing sites next to theaters and developing crowd management plans for before and after shows.

Each site, which will be set up over the next month, will be staffed by theater workers who need employment. Of course, the city's vaccine sites will have the same vaccine eligibilities that the state has set, according to The New York Times. 

"We want to get the Broadway community involved, and the Off-Broadway community, in vaccinating their own folks, by definition a very high percentage of whom are eligible right now,” he said. "We also know that in just a matter of four or five weeks, at the latest, everyone will be eligible. I won’t be surprised if that even is sooner."

For many who've gone through the pandemic with little to no work, the announcement of these plans is the newest signal of hope. 

On March 4, the governor announced that arts and entertainment venues can reopen starting April 2 at 33% capacity—up to 100 people indoors and up to 200 people outdoors. 

At Thursday's press conference, actor/singer Telly Leung spoke briefly, saying that NYC is "yearning for the lights to be back on Broadway and that "today is a really good first step in our healing."

Later, Actors' Equity, a labor union representing professional theater actors and stage managers, praised the announcement.

"Today’s announcement is an important recognition from the City of New York that a strong theatre industry means a healthy, strong economy,” said Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity Association. “Mayor de Blasio clearly understands that we cannot socially distance in our work, making the availability of vaccines and testing critical for maintaining a safe workplace. We have been having conversations with the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment about safety on a regular basis throughout the pandemic. It is clear that we were heard and the city is pushing forward-looking policy changes that will serve the entire theatrical community. We are grateful for the leadership of Mayor de Blasio.”

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