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Broadway shows allowed back at max capacity – with social distancing – by Sept. 14: Cuomo

Broadway shows were cancelled till further notice until the coronavirus outbreak runs its course in March 2020. Customers at Shubert Theater were saddened by the news. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

After being down for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Broadway moved a little closer to raising the curtain again on Wednesday — with Governor Andrew Cuomo clearing the way for theaters to reopen at the fullest capacity possible on Sept. 14.

Theaters will still be required to maintain social distancing, according to Cuomo; the state is giving operators discretion on whether to require patrons to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Ticket sales were also permitted to resume Wednesday, May 5.

Cuomo made the announcement on Wednesday stating that while his office can incentivize vaccinations with private partners, such as with the Mets and Yankees, theaters are going to have to make the call on whether or not to admit unvaccinated people into shows.

“Are you willing to go into an indoor theater, and sit there for two hours, next to a person who you don’t know if they’re vaccinated or unvaccinated? I don’t know that New Yorkers are going to do that. I will tell you today, this simplest formula is 100% vaccinated,” Cuomo said. “Now, the theaters are gonna have to make those decisions, they’ll make those decisions in September, they’ll have a different vaccination rate, a different reality, etc. But what I’m saying now to places, is you want to open with 100% vaccinated, God bless. And I’m looking for examples of that because I think that’s the smartest and safest.”

The Broadway League said tickets would go on sale soon as producers release dates for new and returning shows, but all of it may hinge on how the health crisis progresses and how many Americans get vaccinated.

“The theatre owners, producers, and other League members will continue to work with the NY State Department of Health and the Governor’s office to coordinate the industry’s return and the related health and safety protocols required to do so, we remain cautiously optimistic about Broadway’s ability to resume performances this fall and are happy that fans can start buying tickets again,” according to a Broadway League statement.

The governor said was unsure if this would be feasible from a market point of view, something that will not become clearer until the fall rolls nearer. 

While capacity limitations are only governed by the ability of people to socially distance by six feet, Cuomo also said that could change as Centers for Disease Control requirements change.

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