Updated March 12, 2020, 3:50 p.m.: Broadway theaters have now been added to the growing list of closings in the city and country due to the coronavirus.
The closings go into effect 5 p.m. on Thursday and come as Governor Andrew Cuomo announced new rules aimed at reducing crowds in New York.
“We are taking new actions to reduce the density of people across the state,” Cuomo tweeted on Thursday afternoon. This includes banning crowds of 500 or more people, Cuomo announced, starting on Friday at 5 p.m. For facilities with occupancy of 500 or fewer, Cuomo said the legal capacity will be reduced by 50 percent.
“For Broadway theaters in Manhattan,” Cuomo continued, “these rules will go into effect at 5pm TODAY. We have already spoken to the theaters about these new measures and they agreed.”
The closing down of Broadway theaters, which is a nearly $2 billion industry, will remain in effect through April 12, according to Playbill, which noted that Broadway hadn’t closed down previously since a stagehand strike in 2007.
“Our top priority has been and will continue to be the health and well-being of Broadway theatregoers and the thousands of people who work in the theatre industry every day,” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League, in a statement, “including actors, musicians, stagehands, ushers, and many other dedicated professionals.
“Broadway has the power to inspire, enrich and entertain, and together we are committed to making that vital spirit a reality,” Martin continued. “Once our stages are lit again, we will welcome fans back with open arms so that they can continue to experience the joy, heart, and goodwill that our shows so passionately express every night.”
“To all of my friends and colleagues in shows: Stay safe friends,” tweeted actor, writer and producer Gloria Mann after the announcement. “Let us continue to take care of each other.”
“It is now clear that COVID-19 poses a massive threat not only to our health but also to the long-term future of our beloved city. This is an unprecedented crisis,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman, who represents the Theater District, in a statement. “Broadway theaters, small businesses and community gatherings are part of the civic fabric that makes New York City the greatest place in the world. They employ tens of thousands of New Yorkers, many of whom are middle-class union workers. They need our help.
“As we follow the much-needed guidelines set out by Governor Cuomo this afternoon,” Hoylman added, “we now have to do everything possible to keep Broadway alive after this epidemic and support the local businesses that are the lifeblood of our city.”