Broadway Audiences Will Need Proof of Vaccination and Masks

Children under 12, who cannot be vaccinated, can show a negative test to attend. But the Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall plan to bar them for now.


By Michael Paulson

Broadway’s theater owners and operators, citing the ongoing dangers of the coronavirus pandemic, said Friday that they have decided to require that theatergoers be vaccinated against Covid-19 and wear masks in order to attend a performance.

The policy, announced just days before the first Broadway play in more than 16 months is to start performances, allows children ineligible for vaccination to attend shows if tested for the virus. But some performing arts venues in New York say they will go even further: the Metropolitan Opera, which hopes to reopen in late September, and Carnegie Hall, which is planning to reopen in October, are not only planning to require vaccinations, but also to bar children under 12 who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.

The new vaccination requirements for visitors to New York’s most prominent performing arts venues come as the highly contagious Delta variant has caused Covid-19 cases to rise, leading the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend that vaccinated Americans in virus hot spots resume wearing masks indoors. Several major businesses, local governments and the federal government have recently decided to require their employees to get vaccinated or submit to frequent testing.

The Broadway rules, which will be in place at least through October and apply to all 41 Broadway theaters, require that audiences wear masks, except when eating or drinking.

The Broadway vaccination mandate will apply not only to audiences, but also to performers, backstage crew and theater staff. There will be limited exceptions: “people with a medical condition or closely held religious belief that prevents vaccination,” as well as children under 12, can attend with proof of a recent negative coronavirus test.

A vaccine mandate is already in place for Bruce Springsteen’s concert show, which began performances in June, and for “Pass Over,” the new play that plans to start performances on Aug. 4. The new rules will affect all of the shows that follow: Twenty-seven, including many of the blockbuster musicals, plan to get underway in September and October, starting with “Hadestown” and “Waitress” on Sept. 2.

“We have said from Day 1 that we want our casts, our crews and our audiences to be safe, and we believe that this is a precaution to ensure that,” said Charlotte St. Martin, the president of the Broadway League. “We’re doing everything we can to open safely and protect everyone.”

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