Over the next four weeks, New York City plans to establish COVID-19 vaccination sites specifically for Broadway theater workers, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at a news conference Thursday, adding that he hopes to reach out to those as well. off-Broadway workers.
“We have to prepare the theater community for the fall,” de Blasio said. “By the time we get there, the world will be better.”
A mobile vaccination unit will also be deployed to speed up the process, the mayor said.
Broadway closed in mid-March of last year. At the time there were 31 musicals and plays open, including several that were scheduled to open that week. In February, a new report from the New York State Comptroller’s office showed the devastating cost of the closure on Broadway, as well as the entire creative sector in New York City.
READ MORE: New report details how New York’s arts sector has been devastated by the pandemic
The mayor also announced today that the city plans to open COVID testing sites near movie theaters and will establish more detailed guidelines for handling crowds before and after shows. But he noted that opening Broadway theaters with these proposed security measures still requires New York state approval.
“We will propose our own ideas to the state, but we need them to act,” he said. “Putting on a Broadway show is a big effort, so now they need guidance.”
Under current state guidelines, theaters can now technically be open at 33% capacity, with a maximum of 150 people testing negative for COVID-19. But Broadway producers don’t expect to return until sometime after Labor Day.
“Even if we hit 33%, we couldn’t keep the show open for even a week,” Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, told Gothamist. “Broadway’s financial model doesn’t allow it.”
READ MORE: This was Broadway when it got dark
To allow shows to at least prepare for reopening, a process that includes everything from rehearsals and wardrobe arrangements to marketing drives and ticket promotions, access to vaccines is seen as a crucial first step.
“New York is on the way back, but it won’t come fully until Broadway and all the theaters in the city are back,” said Tony Award-winning actor Andre DeSheilds. “We want everyone to experience the ecstasy of a Broadway show.”
Additional information for Cate Hynes