Broadway, an industry hit hard by the ongoing pandemic, is eyeing a comeback.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the first steps for the city’s theater community to reopen, outlining a long-lead safety plan ahead of an eyed return come September.
“There is a great saying in the theater: The show must go on. And the show will go on on Broadway and off-Broadway when we get to the fall,” said de Blasio in a press conference on Thursday.
An official reopening date has yet to be announced, though Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin in recent statements has indicated September as the likely target for the first shows to be back up and running.
Among the immediate steps to getting the industry to the point of reopening will come in the next four weeks. The city will be opening a dedicated COVID-19 vaccination site in the heart of Broadway with a mobile unit for off-Broadway. There will be pop-up testing sites by theaters and a plan is in development with the city and Broadway to manage crowds before and after shows. The sites will be staffed by workers from the theater industry.
De Blasio is asking the state to issue clear guidance for theater workers regarding mask usage, as well as how to apply proof of vaccination and negative testing, in order to reopen.
Broadway was first shutdown on March 12, 2020, and later extended through May 30, 2021. As the mayor noted, the industry’s shutdown effects 100,000 jobs and has an economic impact of $15 billion per year.
“These are folks who have given their heart and soul to creativity, to making New York City great, to making Broadway the envy of the world,” said de Blasio. “They deserve it, they deserve the opportunity to come back and do what they love. But our city needs it, too. It’s part of our identity, it’s part of who we are; it’s part of what people love about New York City, here and all around the world, and it is so important to our future.”
He added, “We need it back on every level. And the hope that comes with live performance, the hope that comes from our cultural community, this is also absolutely crucial. This is going to be a year to turn things around and our artists, our performers, our cultural community are going to lead the way and inspire people. So, it’s time to raise the curtain and bring Broadway back.”
The news comes as New York City has surpassed 3.5 million vaccinations, de Blasio announced on Thursday, and amid a wave of movie theaters reopening across the country. Cinemas across New York City opened to a limited 25 percent capacity on March 6 after nearly a year of being shuttered due of the coronavirus pandemic.