Thinking about seeing a Broadway show or play when theaters reopen in September? Better go and get a Covid-19 vaccination now or have your little folded-up card at the ready. Because according to Variety, there will be some new rules around theaters when shows start back up in the fall. All performers and personnel for plays will need to be fully vaccinated and all ticketholders will have to show proof of a vaccination before entering the theater. It marks a major undertaking for the industry.
This latest news comes on the heels of pressure for live venues to have certain protocols in place with Delta variant cases rising and vaccination efforts stalling. in addition to the vaccination proof for theatergoers, there will be a mask mandate in place as well. Why the double-dip in protection? The report didn’t provide that reasoning, but it will be an aspect of Broadway shows for possibly the future.
Want to avoid some of these new rules for Broadway theaters when they reopen by finding some rogue theater putting on a mask-free, no-vax show? Think again. The entirety of the Broadway theater district has banded together on this one, with all 41 theaters planning on staying uniform within their new rule structure. The plan is to use this method of audience control for at least a month and then reevaluate it in October.
Some exceptions to the Broadway vaccine rule will be those under 12 years old who aren’t qualified to receive vaccines right now. Plus medical and religious exemptions will be able to enter as well with proof. For those groups, they will need to have a negative Covid test within 48 hours to enter the theater. In this way, the majesty of the theater will still be open for some who haven’t received the vaccine. Folks who have already purchased tickets will be informed of the new changes.
These vaccine requirements from Broadway theaters come at a time when Hollywood productions are dealing with some on-set issues related to positive tests. A number of different filming operations have had to shut down or take breaks because of cases on the set. Those have included Season 2 of Bridgerton for Netflix which is shooting now as well as HBO’s Westworld as well as House of Dragons, the Game of Thrones prequel. These are just a few examples of delayed shows as production ramps up.
Broadway theaters have now been shuttered for over a year, since the beginning of the pandemic and are only now ramping up for shows to start again. It was an industry hit very hard due to the closures, effectively closing down a nearly $2 billion dollar industry in 2019 to zero almost overnight. Unlike other productions, they require more prep time and in-person practice than a typical television show or movie. This, in addition to New York-specific gathering rules around the pandemic, have delayed their return longer than some other businesses. They are now just a month away from reopening, but you better have your vaccination card handy.