Coronavirus: Vaccinations, masks required for Broadway audiences through October

NEW YORK CITY — Proof of COVID-19 vaccination and masks will be required for Broadway theatergoers attending shows through at least Oct. 31 as the delta variant continues to push up infection rates nationwide, according to The Broadway League.

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The national trade association announced the requirement Friday, which will apply to all 41 Broadway theaters in New York City. Guests will be required to show proof that they have been fully vaccinated, meaning that at least 14 days have passed since they received the final necessary dose of any of the available COVID-19 vaccines, when they enter a theater.

Children under the age of 12 and people with medical conditions or religious beliefs which prevent vaccination will be exempt from the policy, although officials said they will have to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of the performance start time. Alternatively, officials said guests exempt from the vaccination policy could show proof of a negative COVID-19 antigen test taken within six hours of the performance start time.

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Theatergoers will also be required to wear masks while inside theaters, except when they are eating or drinking in designated areas.

“For performances in November 2021 and beyond, theatre owners anticipate a review of policies in September, and may include a relaxation of certain provisions if the science dictates,” officials with The Broadway League said in a statement.

Officials announced the requirements one day after The Broadway League and the Actors’ Equity Association agreed to safety protocols aimed at protecting actors and stage managers ahead of the reopening of Broadway. The first show set to resume, “Pass Over,” begins preview performances Aug. 4 at the August Wilson Theatre.

As part of the agreement announced Thursday, officials said employees would be required to undergo weekly testing and to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“This is an important milestone on the path to getting all our members safely back to work,” Mary McColl, executive director for Actors’ Equity Association, said in a statement. “We all feel this plan is robust, adaptable to changing conditions and in line with the science. Vaccines work, and those who are vaccinated will protect both themselves and those who can’t be at this time.”

About 55% of New York City residents have been fully vaccinated, according to data from the New York City Department of Health. As of Thursday, about 50% of Americans have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The United States leads the world with the most coronavirus cases and the highest death toll. Since the start of the pandemic, officials have confirmed more than 34.7 million infections and reported more than 612,000 deaths nationwide, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

More than 196.8 million COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide, resulting in 4.2 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.