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The Majority of Broadway Theaters Will Stop Checking for Vaccines, but the Mask Requirement Will Not.

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The 41 theatres’ owners and operators have agreed to loosen audience safety regulations that have been in place since last summer.

By Michael Paulson

April 15, 2022

The majority of Broadway companies have opted to stop checking ticket holders’ immunization status after April 30, but all will require audience members to wear masks inside theatres until at least May 31.

The adjustment was revealed on Friday by the Broadway League, a trade organization. The owners and operators of Broadway’s 41 theatres made the decision, which had initially chosen to demand vaccines and masks last summer before the city imposed its own requirements.

Since then, the theatre owners — six for-profit and four nonprofit organizations — have been revisiting the protocols on a regular basis.

They made the announcement after many governments and businesses around the country eased restrictions, but with cases on the rise in New York City and the virus prompting numerous Broadway plays to cancel performances in recent days, they made the decision.

“Since restarting performances last fall, over five million people have seen a Broadway play, and the safety and security of our cast, crew, and audience have been our top priority,” the Broadway League’s president, Charlotte St. Martin, said in a statement. “We intend to maintain that track record of safety for all by maintaining tight audience masking until at least the month of May.” Of course, we recommend that everyone get vaccinated.”

Until now, the theatres have worked together on the rules, claiming that having different standards could cause confusion among theatergoers. The vaccine mandate has been dropped by the largest commercial landlords on Broadway, while two nonprofits have stated they would keep it and another has said it is still deciding what to do.

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The League did not specify which theatres would no longer require confirmation of vaccination, but the Shubert Organization, which owns 17 theatres, and the Nederlander Organization, which owns nine, both announced on Friday that they would no longer require proof of vaccination as of May 1.

On May 1, Disney Theatrical Productions, which owns the New Amsterdam Theater, and Circle in the Square, which owns Broadway’s sole round theatre, announced that they would no longer require proof of immunization.

Jujamcyn Theaters and the Ambassador Theater Group, two other commercial theatre companies on Broadway, did not immediately respond to calls for comment.

The Lincoln Center Theater, a nonprofit that operates the 1,080-seat Vivian Beaumont Theater on Broadway, said it will maintain its immunization mandate. The Roundabout Theater Company, a nonprofit with three Broadway theatres, said it would continue to require proof of vaccination for its production of “Birthday Candles,” which runs through May 29, but that commercial producers renting its other theatres would be free to use whatever protocols they wanted.

The Manhattan Theater Club, another charity, said it would decide next week whether to keep the condition in place at the 650-seat Samuel J. Friedman Theater on Broadway.

Immunization and masking restrictions, which have long been abolished in many parts of the country, have been phased out in New York City; for example, on March 7, the city abolished rules requiring proof of vaccination for indoor dining at restaurants.

Other places, such as movie theatres and some comedy, sports, and concert venues, have chosen to do away with masking rules. Masks are still compulsory on subways, buses, and interior subway stations, but anecdotal information shows that compliance is declining.

The number of new cases of the virus has lately increased in New York City, but it is still far below the peak of the Omicron outbreak.

The policy modifications announced on Friday only affect patrons; Broadway actors and other theatre staff must still get vaccinated as a condition of employment.

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