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Jimmy Fallon returned to his Rockefeller Center studio Monday, after months of shooting The Tonight Show from his home. He is the first late night host to return to the studio amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “I want to say thank you to everyone who helped us get back to where we are now, wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands, quarantining, it all helps,” he said.
The late night host and New York resident has been filming his show from home since the novel coronavirus pandemic hit the state harder than any others in the U.S. in early March. Since the outbreak, New York has seen more than 200,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and upwards of 20,000 deaths related to the infectious disease. But the state’s daily number of new confirmed cases has been declining since its high of approximately 11,500 cases in mid-April, with daily positive test results below 1,000 new cases a day for the past two weeks, amid a phased approach to reopening. New York City is in phase three of a four-phase reopening process, with the rest of the state in phase four.
Monday’s episode opened with a jazzy number that sees Fallon walk to work taking proper COVID-19 precautions. In the opening, Fallon dons a crisp grey ensemble. His new accessory? A blue face mask.
Later during his walk, he purchases his coffee from a cafe and hands the barista cash wrapped in a Ziploc bag. Upon seeing the masked doorman, who needs the late night host to show confirm his identity before entering 30 Rock, Fallon steps more than 6 feet away to remove his mask and safely show his smiling face. As soon as he enters, the doorman sprays disinfectant to the air around him. Inside, Fallon also encounters a doctor who checks his temperature.
On what looked like a new set with a different backdrop, Fallon took a seat on a stool as he was joined by The Roots, this time to his left, with a fair amount of distance between each band member. The host detailed the precautions being taken to keep him and his staffers safe. He explained that everyone in the studio has tested negative for COVID-19 and he received a nose-swab test that morning in addition to the temperature check. Crewmembers onstage were all wearing face masks and face shields. The show also is being taped without an audience. He then showed off the sign on offices indicating that the area has been disinfected to let him and other staffers know it’s safe to enter.
“This has truly been done the safest way possible, and we would only do it that way,” he added of his return to the studio.
Fallon last taped a show from The Tonight Show‘s 30 Rock home on March 12.
In addition to thanking the cast and crew who have made it possible for The Tonight Show to return to the studio, Fallon had a message for viewers in states seeing higher COVID-19 case numbers.
“To all the states going through the tough parts right now — our friends in Florida, Arizona, Texas, California, all over the South — I know how hard it is,” he told his viewers. “And I’m not gonna lie to you, it’s rough. But I guess I’m here to show you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel if we all do our part and keep each other safe.”
Monday night’s episode also featured a musical number inspired by the Christmas classic, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.” Instead of singing about snow falling or holiday cheer, Fallon sings a number about returning to normalcy.
“So maybe it’s not totally normal, it’s not quite like before,” he sings to the familiar tune. “But I’ll be with you every night trying to shed some light until things are actually normal once more.”
Watch the videos below.
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