ABOVE PHOTO: Cynthia Erivo and Joaquina Kalukango in The Color Purple on Broadway. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)
By MARK KENNEDY
NEW YORK (AP) — Broadway theatergoers will need to prove they’ve been vaccinated for COVID-19 and masks will be required when theaters reopen in the coming weeks, producers announced Friday.
Audience members will have to wear face coverings and show proof they are fully vaccinated by a FDA or WHO authorized vaccine when they enter the theaters until at least the end of October, the Broadway League said in a news release.
“Get vaccinated, and we’ll see you in the fall,” tweeted Broadway and TV star Jeremy Jordan. Composer Jason Robert Brown also agreed with the move: “That’s right. That’s where we’re at.”
There will be exceptions to the vaccine rule for children under 12, who are not yet eligible for any of the approved shots, and for people with a medical condition or religious belief that prevents vaccination, the theater operators said. Those individuals will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Masks are required for the audience except while eating or drinking in designated locations.
The League said theater owners anticipate a review of the safety policies in September and may include a relaxation of certain provisions if the science dictates after October.
“This is what we have as a community on Broadway decided and then we’re going to reevaluate it in October. It’s still fluid,” Bonnie Comley, board president of The Drama League, told The Associated Press. “This should be a positive thing. All these different unions that don’t always agree have come together to be able to do this before people come into the theater.”
The move comes a day after Actors’ Equity Association, the union which represents nearly 52,000 actors and stage managers, said it would require cast and crew members to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Company members who are not vaccinated, including those under the age of 12, must continue to wear masks, practice physical distancing when possible and undergo testing at least twice a week. The protocols apply to both Broadway productions and Equity-backed shows across the nation.
Bruce Springsteen’s one-man show is the only performance currently running on Broadway. Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu’s “Pass Over” is set to open Wednesday at the August Wilson Theatre. Most other theaters will open in September or October after being shuttered since the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020.
Ticket holders for performances scheduled through Oct. 31 will be notified of the vaccination policy, Broadway League officials said. For performances in November 2021 and beyond, the theater operators will review the policy and made changes if science dictates, they said.
“As vaccination has proven the most effective way to stay healthy and reduce transmission, I’m pleased that the theatre owners have decided to implement these collective safeguards at all our Broadway houses,” Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin said in a statement.