As the highly contagious Delta variant spreads, many people and businesses across the U.S. are starting to crack down, mask up, and implement restrictions to reduce the spread of the coronavirus once more. In just the last week, the White House issued vaccination requirements for federal workers and many restaurants across the country started requiring proof of vaccination for those looking to dine inside. But this new "no vax, no service" approach isn't just hitting certain workplaces and your favorite spots to eat. Another popular attraction has just announced a new ban on unvaccinated visitors.
On July 30, the Broadway League announced that the owners and operators of all 41 Broadway theaters in New York City will require theatergoers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID in order to attend performances. This will affect many of the shows scheduled to return in September, after a year and a half of performances being shut down.
"Under the policy, guests will need to be fully vaccinated with an FDA or WHO authorized vaccine in order to attend a show and must show proof of vaccination at their time of entry into the theatre with their valid ticket," the Broadway League said in a statement. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only given emergency use authorization to three COVID vaccines: Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson&Johnson. But Oxford-AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, and Sinovac vaccines have also been authorized by the World Health Organization (WHO).
In order for a Broadway theater guest to be considered fully vaccinated, the performance date must be at least 14 days after an individual's second dose in a two-dose series or 14 days after a single-dose vaccine. Vaccinations will also be required for performers, backstage crew, and theatre staff.
Additionally, masks will have to be worn by all audience members when inside the theatre, except when they're eating or drinking in designated areas.
But there are still exceptions to this new mandate. According to the Broadway League's statement, patrons do not have to be vaccinated if they are under the age of 12 or have a "medical condition or closely held religious belief that prevents vaccination." These people must show proof of a negative PCR COVID test that was taken within 72 hours of the start of the performance or a negative rapid test taken within six hours before.
"As vaccination has proven the most effective way to stay healthy and reduce transmission, I'm pleased that the theatre owners have decided to implement these collective safeguards at all our Broadway houses," Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, said in a statement. "A uniform policy across all New York City Broadway theatres makes it simple for our audiences and should give even more confidence to our guests about how seriously Broadway is taking audience safety."
According to The New York Times, Broadway is still planning to reopen at full capacity in September with no social distancing, with theaters ranging in size from 600 to 1,900 seats.
Broadway's vaccination and mask requirement comes just days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it was recommending masks indoors for vaccinated individuals in substantial or high transmission areas. Currently, New York City has substantial transmission, according to the CDC.
Theatergoers will have to be vaccinated and masked for all performances through the end of Oct. 2021. For performances in November and beyond, "theatre owners anticipate a review of policies in September, and may include a relaxation of certain provisions if the science dictates," the Broadway League said.