When audiences return to Broadway this fall, things will be markedly different from the "before times."
Audiences will have strict rules to follow—proof of vaccination will be required from each guest and masks must be worn throughout their time in theaters, according to The Broadway League.
The League, which represents 41 Broadway theaters, announced its decision on Friday, saying having a uniform policy makes it simple for the theaters' audiences and staff and performers to stay safe.
"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," said Charlotte St. Martin, the League's president. "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."
Each audience member (as well as staffers and performers) will have to be fully vaccinated with an FDA- or WHO-authorized vaccine and must show proof of vaccination before they enter the theater with their ticket. The League notes that "fully vaccinated" means the performance date must be at least 14 days after the second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine or at least 14 days after a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine.
Everyone will need to wear a mask unless they're eating or drinking in designated locations. It sounds like the beloved sippy cup cocktails won't necessarily go away—you'll just have to drink them elsewhere.
Theater owners and operators will alert ticket holders for performances through October 31, 2021. For performances in November 2021 and beyond, theater owners will wait and see if there are new science-backed policies in September that could include a relaxation of rules.
Of course, kids 12 and under and people with medical conditions or closely held religious belief that prevent vaccination will be exempt, so long as they provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of the performance start time or a negative COVID-19 antigen test taken within six hours of the performance start time.
The mandate comes as NYC is facing an uptick in Delta variant cases among non-vaccinated New Yorkers and the CDC backpedaled on its mask recommendations, saying Americans should be wearing them indoors, even if they're vaccinated.
"With these procedures in place and recognizing the high vaccination rates among NYC audiences, Broadway continues to make safety our priority," Nick Scandalios of The Nederlander Organization said. "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."