“With these procedures in place, and recognizing the high vaccination rates among New York City audiences, Broadway continues to make safety our priority,” Nick Scandalios, executive vice president of the Nederlander Organization, Broadway’s second-largest landlord, said in the statement. “As we get ready for Broadway’s big comeback, the entire theater community is committed to the highest level of public health standards.”
The announcement comes on the heels of a recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that masks be once again required indoors, especially in locales developing as covid hot spots. New York City’s health department reports that while hospitalizations remain minimal, the numbers of confirmed cases and people testing positive are rising. As a magnet for tourism, too, the city will be host to theatergoers from other parts of the country and the world.
The league’s mandate covers the 21 or so productions that will be running between now and Oct. 31, when the rules will be subject to review. The productions that will be returning in September and October are some of Broadway’s biggest hits, including “Hamilton,” “Wicked,” “The Lion King” and such newcomers as “Six” and “Mrs. Doubtfire.”
Currently, attendance at “Springsteen on Broadway” has required full vaccination but not a mask; “Pass Over,” which becomes the second Broadway show to begin, on Wednesday, mandates immunization, too. It had planned to allow patrons to take off their masks when seated. Matt Ross, the show’s lead producer, said Friday the production in the August Wilson Theatre will now modify its plan to confirm with the league’s mask policy.
Under the new guidelines, ticket holders must present documentation at the door of full immunization by a vaccine authorized by the Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization. Exceptions will be made, the league said, for children under 12 — who are ineligible for the vaccine — and “people with a medical condition or closely held religious belief that prevents vaccination.” Anyone in those categories must provide proof of a negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test within 72 hours of the performance, or a negative antigen test within six hours of the curtain rise.
The vaccinations will also be compulsory for “performers, backstage crew and theater staff,” according to the league statement. Ticket holders will be notified of the new policies, the league said, adding that there could be a relaxing of requirements in November “if the science dictates.”