A Broadway reopening will happen in 2021, according to mayor Bill de Blasio. The performance spaces which have been shuttered for more than a year will reopen by September, with the mayor’s administration helping facilitate that goal, according to a press conference on Thursday.
“Broadway needs to come back, and we will move heaen and earth to bring Broadway back,” de Blasio told media Thursday.
New York’s theaters have been shut down since March 12, 2020. Plans for its return have been shifting ever since, with hopes first that fall of 2020 might see a return to the stage, only to see delays to spring 2021 and now fall due to the continuing battle against COVID-19. New York officials have already begun allowing certain live entertainment events to return, but indoor events within enclosed spaces (such as Broadway and off-Broadway venues) are the most risky from a public health perspective, keeping such spaces on the sideline as the city and country continue to reopen.
Among the plans announced to facilitate the return to the stage are a dedicated vaccination location for industry professionals within the theatre district in midtown Manhattan, as well as a mobile unit to venture to off-Broadway locations, pop-up COVID testing sites, and crowd management plans for audiences to safely enter and exit facilities once they are open.
“We’ve got to lay the groundwork for a strong comeback for Broadway and off-Broadway,” de Blaiso says. “Our theater community needs it. … our city needs it, too. It’s part of our identity.”
With under six month between the announcment and the hopeful reopening date, action is expected to be taken within four weeks on the plans announced Thursday. The city will work with state officials as well as leadership in the industry to put things into motion.
“Mayor de Blasio clearly understands that we cannot socially distance in our work, making the availability of vaccines and testing critical for maintaining a safe workplace,” said Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity Association, in a statement responding to the press conference. “We have been having conversations with the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment about safety on a regular basis throughout the pandemic. It is clear that we were heard and the city is pushing forward-looking policy changes that will serve the entire theatrical community.” The union began publicly asking for theater workers to be vaccinated in New York on a state level as of March 3.
A specific date for reopening was not announced Thursday. All Broadway productions are officially on hiatus through at least May 30.