Some Broadway Theaters End Proof of Vaccination Requirement, But All Maintain Mask Mandates

A Covid safety officer holding a mask up sign at a performance of "A Strange Loop" at the Lyceum Theatre

By Anna Breuer on 2 May 2022
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Sunday marked the first day since the reopening of Broadway last summer that many theaters will not require theatergoers to present proof of vaccination to attend a show, although all Broadway houses will continue to mandate that they don face masks.

The change came as New York City raised its Covid alert from low to medium, amidst a high number of new cases clustered in Manhattan.

The Broadway League, the group that represents theater owners, said in mid-April that the policy would remain in force until at least May 31, 2022.

The change modifies a policy first announced at the end of July 2021 that required theatergoers to have proof of fully vaccinated status via a CDC or WHO vaccination card showing an FDA or WHO approved vaccine as well as a government-issued photo ID. Theatergoers between 12 and 18 may use a school ID in lieu of one issued by government.  Those under five do not need to have a form of identification.

Broadway’s two biggest landlords  – the Shubert Organization, with 17 theaters, and the Nederlander Organization, with nine – stopped checking proof of vaccination on Sunday, as did Disney Theatrical Productions, which operates the New Amsterdam Theater, and Circle in the Square, which has Broadway’s only theater in the round.

Meanwhile, Lincoln Center Theater, a non-profit that operates one Broadway house, the 1,080-seat Vivian Beaumont Theater, said it kept its vaccine requirement in place, as will New York City Center, a 2,257-seat Moorish Revival theater on West 55th Street in Manhattan that presents a variety of programs including classic Broadway musicals.

The Roundabout Theater Company, a non-profit, announced  it would continue to require proof of vaccination at its production of “Birthday Candles” at the American Airlines Theatre.  Roundabout also operates two other Broadway theaters, Studio 54, home to the play “The Minutes,” and the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, home to “Mrs. Doubtfire,” which it current rents to commercial producers. Neither will require the presentation of a vaccination passport.

Second Stage Theaters, another non-profit that operates a Broadway house, said it will not check theatergoers’ proof of vaccine either.

Carnegie Hall, David Geffen Hall (previously known as Avery Fisher Hall and home to the New York Philharmonic), and Alice Tully Hall – halls that seat from 1,000 to almost 3,000 concertgoers – will also continue to require proof of full vaccination while also maintaining a requirement for those in attendance to don face masks throughout a performance.

The changes notwithstanding, Broadway performers, theater staff, and backstage crewmembers at all theaters will still be required to be fully vaccinated.

While the vaccine policy is changing, the mask mandate is not, given the number of people (ranging from 585 at the Hayes and 1,926 at the Gershwin) who crowd into these auditoriums for multiple hours at a time. Theatergoers will still be required to wear face masks when in the building, except when eating or drinking.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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