Tony Awards Will Require Tests, Not Masks for Nominees at Radio City

The star attendees at the Tony Awards on June 12 will not be required to wear masks during the ceremony, but will need to be tested for COVID-19 before attending, the awards show confirmed Monday.

Attendees sitting in the orchestra section of Radio City Music Hall (which is not a Broadway theater) include Tony nominees, as well as producers, theater owners and other celebrity guests. Many of the actors will take to the stage during the show, which led to the PCR testing requirement for everyone in the orchestra. Masks are optional for this section, which is likely to be heavily featured on the telecast.

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“As a significant portion of the orchestra are Tony Award nominees and either going to be on stage and/or performing, it felt necessary to do the same for all of those in the orchestra. Requirements to be on stage include the PCR testing and verification,” Tony Award Productions said in a statement.

While testing is an added precaution for audience members, the lack of a mask requirement is at odds with the current regulations on Broadway. All attendees at Broadway shows are currently required to wear masks through June 30, as part of an industry-set mandate that has been regularly renewed since July 2021.

Broadway cast members have been performing unmasked since the industry’s reopening, but are frequently tested for COVID-19, with cadences set by case numbers in the area.

Attendees sitting in the mezzanine and balcony sections of Radio City Music Hall, are required to wear a mask throughout the ceremony, but do not need to be tested.

All ticket holders at the Tony Awards will need to provide proof of full vaccination, even as most Broadway theaters did away with that requirement in May.

The testing requirement, but optional masking for some attendees follows a similar rule set by the Academy Awards. At the March 27 ceremony, Oscar nominees and their guests were not required to wear masks and were also required to undergo testing, as well as provide proof of vaccination.

But the lack of a mask requirement for some audience members also comes as the Broadway industry seeks to remerge from an embattled season, which has included lower attendance and productions grappling with COVID-19 cases among cast and company members, as well as show cancellations and changing safety protocols. The Tony Awards broadcast is one of the best commercials for the industry and one way of signaling a hopeful return to normalcy for Broadway.

Broadway’s COVID Safety Officers, who have been enforcing the industry’s safety requirements and coordinating the COVID-19 testing of casts and crews, are among the invited attendees at the ceremony.

Cases in New York City have been rising for the past several weeks, but now appear to have reached somewhat of a plateau. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently downgraded New York County to a medium risk level, which relaxes the recommendation for indoor mask wearing, after weeks at a high risk level.

Oscar winner and Tony nominee Ariana DeBose has been selected to host the 75th annual Tony Awards. The broadcast is split across Paramount+ and CBS. The first part, an hour long special which takes place at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, will stream on Paramount+ with hosts Darren Criss and Julianne Hough, both of whom are currently in Broadway shows. The awards show will then continue at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT live on CBS and streaming live and on-demand on Paramount+.

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