© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Performers attend a pop-up performance on Broadway in anticipation of Broadway reopening in Times Square amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Manhattan neighborhood of New York City, New York, USA, March 12, 2021. REUTERS / Wagen
By Barbara Goldberg
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Broadway audiences will need masks and vaccination records when the shows reopen in the fall, an industry association said Friday, while the Metropolitan Opera (NASDAQ 🙂 plans to exclude children under 12 who cannot be vaccinated against coronavirus.
All 41 Broadway theaters in New York require documentation of a full vaccination before allowing guests, cast, backstage crew and theater staff to enter indoor spaces for any shows, the Broadway League said in a statement. Masks are required for spectators.
The announcement comes just weeks before most Broadway theaters will reopen after a 16-month closure from COVID-19. As the rapidly spreading Delta variant is gaining momentum, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended this week that vaccinated people return to wearing inner masks.
Broadway policy stays in place through October, and theaters could relax the rules in November “if science dictates,” the league said.
Many Broadway shows will reopen in September, with Pass Over raising the curtain on August 4th at the Wilson Theater. Proof of full vaccination was already required to get a seat at Bruce Springsteen’s solo show, which opened on Broadway in June.
“A single guideline makes it easy for our audiences and should give our guests even more confidence how seriously Broadway takes the safety of the audience,” said League President Charlotte St. Martin in the statement.
Theaters will make exceptions for children and people with an illness or close religious belief that prevents vaccination, the league said. Visitors must have a negative COVID-19 PCR test performed within 72 hours of the start of the performance or a negative COVID-19 antigen test performed within 6 hours of the start of the performance.
Some of the city’s other pre-eminent performing arts centers, including The Met, completely exclude children under the age of 12 and make masks optional for the audience.
“As soon as children under the age of 12 are entitled to a vaccine, fully vaccinated children will be welcomed back to the Met,” said a statement from the legendary opera house.
Both Broadway and Met open at full capacity, rather than partially, to enforce social distancing, with Broadway theaters ranging in size from 600 to 1,000 seats and the Met having 3,000 seats, the New York Times reported.
“As we prepare for Broadway’s big comeback, the entire theater community is committed to the highest standards of public health,” Nick Scandalios of The Nederlander Organization, a spokesman for the theater owners, said in a statement.
“We all look forward to welcoming our many patrons and fans back to the magic of Broadway.”
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