The New Amsterdam Theatre (Photo: Pit Stock / Shutterstock.com)
Want to see a Broadway show? You’re going to need a jab (or two, depending on which vaccine).
The Broadway League announced today that the owners and operators of all 41 Broadway theatres in New York City will require vaccinations for audience members, as well as performers, backstage crew, and theatre staff, for all performances through October 2021. Masks will also be required for audiences inside the theatre, except while eating or drinking in designated locations.
According to a press statement by the League, “Under the policy, guests will need to be fully vaccinated with an FDA or WHO authorized vaccine in order to attend a show and must show proof of vaccination at their time of entry into the theatre with their valid ticket. ‘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.
Theatre owners and operators will begin notifying ticket holders for performances through October 31, 2021, with reminder messaging planned to ensure awareness of the new policies. For performances in November 2021 and beyond, theatre owners anticipate a review of policies in September and may include a relaxation of certain provisions if the science dictates.
When asked about the collective decision to require vaccinations, Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League said, “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. 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.”
But what about The Lion King and other family-friendly productions where audiences will likely include children under 12 who are, at this point, not eligible for vaccination?
According to the League, exceptions are being made for children under 12 and people with a medical condition or closely held religious belief that prevents vaccination. These guests must 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 6 hours of the performance start time.
Speaking for theatre owners, Nick Scandalios of The Nederlander Organization added, “With these procedures in place and recognizing the high vaccination rates among NYC audiences, Broadway continues to make safety our priority. 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.”
The policy, only valid through the end of October, leaves an open door for what may come next. Still, 13 shows are slated to open between now and then, ensuring — at least for now — that actors, crew and audiences can expect safety protocols.