In New York, one of the most treasured forms of entertainment is theatre. People come flocking to Broadway to see the new hottest show, which takes place in a theater that holds thousands of people. In March of 2020, Broadway was forced to shut down as COVID-19 started to run rampant. But, in the Fall of 2021, theatre made its triumphant return as shows began to reopen, but with many restrictions in place. Now, these restrictions are being lifted.
The first restriction to be lifted was back in May, when it was no longer required that people no longer had to be vaccinated to attend a show. While many were uneasy at this, it makes sense from a business standpoint to want to allow more people to attend shows, especially as tourism increases for the summer. For those who were concerned about this being lifted, they were able to take solace in the fact that masks were still required- until now.
On June 21st, the Broadway League announced that starting July 1st, masks will become optional. In their statement, they added that “audience members are still encouraged to wear masks in theatres”, but although they are encouraged, no staff can require them to be worn. The Broadway League also added that they will continue to monitor COVID levels in the coming months, so this ruling might change in the future.
While we are slowly but surely going towards a post-pandemic world, it does come as a shock to many that this mandate is already being lifted, especially since many cast members are taking leaves of absence due to COVID. Hugh Jackman, star of The Music Man, has been out for 10 days due to COVID, and Abby Mueller, a member of Six: The Musical had to not only miss 10 days of performances, but was unable to perform at the Tony Awards as well due to her illness.
Some regulars might not be attending shows as often now due to safety concerns, but the lift of a mask mandate will likely lead to more tourists attending Broadway shows. This measure may be a response to the decline in audiences in theaters, so this might end up being the push that’s needed to financially recover, even if it’s not the safest push.
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