Broadway, Met Opera will require proof of vaccination and masks as shows resume

Theater is reopening in New York, but shows are taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Broadway theaters in New York will require patrons to wear masks and show proof of vaccination.
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Broadway is back in New York -- but all theaters will require patrons to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear masks during shows. 

All 41 Broadway theaters in New York will require audience members -- as well as performers, backstage crew and theater staff -- to be fully vaccinated before attending a show through the end of October. Patrons will need to show proof of vaccination alongside their tickets when they enter a theater, and they will also have to wear masks, except when eating or drinking in designated locations in the venue. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their final shot of one- and two-dose vaccines. 

The mask and vaccination policy may extend past October, the Broadway League trade association said Friday. Theater owners plan to review policies in September. 

Since no COVID-19 vaccines are yet approved for children under 12, kids are exempt from the new vaccination policy, as are people with a medical condition or "closely held religious belief that prevents vaccination." But those attendees must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of the performance start time or a negative COVID-19 antigen test taken within six hour of the performance's start. 

The new Broadway policy comes as theaters prepare for their first audiences in over a year. The pandemic forced musicals and plays to close in March 2020, putting actors and crew out of work. Broadway's reopening has been seen as a return to normalcy in New York, which was badly hurt by the pandemic in its early months. 

But the spread of the delta strain of COVID-19 has shifted the conversation around the novel coronavirus pandemic in recent weeks. While much of the US reopened in the late spring and early summer, delta's surge now is now causing some organizations and governments to shift plans to prevent infections. The variant is more contagious than other versions of the virus and is now the dominant type of COVID-19 in the US. 

Delta's prevalence has caused tech giants like Apple and Google to push back their returns to office, and many companies are now requiring their employees to be vaccinated. On Tuesday, the US Centers for Disease Control recommended that fully vaccinated Americans should return to wearing masks indoors if they live in an area with "substantial or high" transmission of COVID-19. And the Washington Post reported on Thursday that an internal CDC document said delta causes more serious infections and is as infectious as chickenpox, and people who are vaccinated can spread the virus to others

Bruce Springsteen's solo concert on Broadway has been performing since June 26 and has required attendees to wear masks and show proof of vaccination. Other shows that will soon open in New York include "Hadestown," "Waitress" and "Moulin Rouge" in September and "Mrs. Doubtfire" in October. 

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The Metropolitan Opera in New York will also require patrons to show proof of vaccination when it reopens in September. Attendees will have to upload their vaccination cards to the CLEAR app or Excelsior Pass for New York State residents or provide the original physical vaccination card or a photograph of the card. Audience members also will have to sign a COVID waiver when purchasing tickets and in pre-performance email confirmations, the Met Opera said. 

Carnegie Hall also will require vaccinations for all attendees when shows resume at the New York venue in October.

While Broadway theaters will allow unvaccinated children to attend shows, the Met Opera and Carnegie Hall will not. Only fully vaccinated people will be admitted to the venues. 

"As soon as children under the age of 12 become eligible to receive a vaccine, fully vaccinated children will be welcomed back to the Met," the opera said. 

The San Francisco Opera and other venues across the country also will require attendees to be vaccinated.

The New York Times earlier reported the news.