New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo cleared the way for Broadway productions to reopen May 19, announcing Monday that most novel coronavirus-related capacity restrictions in New York and New Jersey will be lifted on that date, including those that have prevented Broadway theaters from operating for more than a year.
Though Broadway can effectively reopen on that date “from a capacity point of view,” Cuomo said, the governor noted that it will take time to remount productions and sell tickets.
“They may make their own economic decision as to when they reopen,” Cuomo said during a Monday press briefing. “We’re talking about Broadway.”
For their part, Broadway leaders — including The Broadway League — had previously said a September reopening is more likely. This came after Mayor Bill de Blasio said he expects New York City to reopen in July.
And, following Cuomo’s Monday remarks, the League remains committed to reopening at full capacity in the fall.
“We applaud the governor’s recent announcement easing capacity limits on performance venues in New York State. We are encouraged by this good news, which is a long-awaited indication that New York is truly on the road to recovery,” read the statement from the group to The Hollywood Reporter on Monday afternoon. “We look forward to reopening at full capacity and are working to safely welcome audiences and employees back to Broadway theatres this fall. As always, we continue to work closely with our elected officials and will share more information as soon as plans become finalized.”
During Monday’s briefing, Cuomo added that should Broadway actually welcome guests in the near future, social distancing measures would have to remain in effect in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unless patrons provide proof of vaccination or recent negative test results.
The reopening initiative, which comes as COVID-19 vaccination rates continue to rise across the tristate region, will also affect theaters, gyms, museums, restaurants, bars, amusement parks and shops.
It wasn’t immediately clear what the new edict means for New York City movie theaters, since capacity will still be inherently restricted by the 6 feet rule. Exhibitors in New York say overall capacity must be 50 percent by Memorial Day and 75 percent by July Fourth if cinemas are to make a profit.
Pamela McClintock and Jackie Strause contributed to this report.
11:21 a.m. This story has been updated to reflect The Broadway League declining to comment.
2:30 p.m. Updated with Broadway League statement.