Broadway Extends Mask Mandate As NYC Covid Cases Rise

Topline

Broadway theaters will require audiences to wear masks through June amid rising numbers of Covid-19 cases in New York City, the Broadway League announced Friday, breaking with Mayor Eric Adams, who has refused to reimpose mask mandates in the city.

Key Facts

The mask mandate for audiences at all Broadway theaters has been extended through “at least” June 30, the Broadway League said.

The mask order was last extended through the end of May, even as most Broadway theaters dropped proof of Covid-19 vaccination requirements starting May 1.

Broadway’s mask announcement came days after Adams said earlier this week he would not reimpose restrictions like mask mandates, saying the city was entering a “new norm” and could not “shut down” with “every variant that comes.”

New York City reached a “high” alert level for Covid-19 on Tuesday and health officials recommend people wear masks indoors as a result, though beyond Broadway and the subway system masks are largely not required.

Crucial Quote

“As always, the safety and security of our cast, crew, and audience has been our top priority,” Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin said in a statement Friday. “By maintaining our audience masking requirement through at least the month of June, we intend to continue that track record of safety for all, despite the Omicron subvariants.”

Big Number

4,093. That’s the seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases in New York City as of Monday, the most recent date for which data is available, according to the city’s health department. That’s up from 3,002 cases at the beginning of May and approximately 2,300 cases in mid-April.

What To Watch For

The Broadway League will announce in June whether masks will be required beyond June 30, it said Friday.

Surprising Fact

Many Broadway theater operators and productions let go of staff who were responsible for enforcing Covid-19 protocols when the proof of vaccination mandate was dropped on May 1, the Hollywood Reporter reports. Some have also reportedly fired Covid-19 safety managers who oversaw protocols backstage and helped enforce the audience mask mandate, according to the Reporter, though shows have other staff members who will help enforce measures.

Tangent

Broadway star Patti LuPone drew attention to Broadway’s mask mandate earlier this month, when a video went viral showing the Tony Award nominee calling out audience members at a post-show talkback who weren’t wearing their mask over their noses. Wearing masks properly “is the rule. If you don’t want to follow the rule, get the f— out!” LuPone told the theatergoers after a performance of the musical Company. “Who do you think you are that you do not respect the people that are sitting around you?”

Key Background

Broadway has been one of the most cautious industries when it comes to reopening amid the Covid-19 pandemic, remaining shuttered through the first year and a half of the pandemic before theaters reopened last fall with stringent protocols in place. The industry has also been heavily affected by local Covid surges, which have resulted in shows being forced to cancel performances as company members contract the coronavirus and delayed the announcement of the Tony Award nominations. The extended mask mandate comes as most leaders across the country have been unwilling to reimpose mask orders in recent weeks, even as cases rise nationwide. In addition to Adams, other leaders in areas like Boston and California’s Bay Area have also recommended people wear masks but stopped short of requiring them, though some school districts have put mask mandates back in place. The only city that did reimpose a mask mandate, Philadelphia, dropped the order only three days after it went into effect amid a public outcry against it.

Further Reading

Covid Cases Are Rising — But Cities So Far Aren’t Reimposing Mask Mandates (Forbes)

Broadway Shows Canceling Performances — Again — As NYC Covid Cases Rise (Forbes)

As Broadway Drops Audience Vaccine Mandate, Job Cuts Hit COVID-19 Safety Workers (Hollywood Reporter)

Why Adams Is Rejecting Mask Mandates as Covid Cases Rise in New York (New York Times)

‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ Patti LuPone Publicly Rips Broadway Patron Over Mask Policy (NBC New York)

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