September is the goal for re-opening New York City’s Broadway theater district, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday.
With schools fully reopening and more office workers expected to return to work, de Blasio said at his morning news conference, “Broadway comes back and this city writes a story for the ages. The comeback of New York City will be one of the greatest moments in our history and everyone will be an actor on that stage.”
There are 41 official Broadway theaters.
De Blasio said that beginning in weeks, those who work on Broadway and Off Broadway will be targeted with dedicated coronavirus vaccine and testing sites. The plan would not expand vaccine eligibility under state policy, however, and not all workers are eligible yet.
Asked whether the Broadway League, the industry’s trade association, shares the goal of a September re-opening, league spokeswoman Martine Sainvil did not directly answer.
In an email, Sainvil wrote: “We are pleased that the city and the state are working with us to help get people back to work and to raise Broadway curtains once again. Vaccination and testing sites for theatre workers are a great step towards recovery and bringing Broadway back. Our community has suffered catastrophic losses, and the sooner we can return to share our stories in a safe and secure way, the better our city will be.”
Vicki Been, de Blasio’s deputy mayor for housing and economic development, said that the Broadway vaccination program would be used as a model for other performing arts, such as ballet, opera, and dance.
For performances, the precautions to be in place — such as social distancing, masking, and limiting food and beverage service — would depend on infection and vaccination rates, said Dr. Jay Varma, de Blasio’s senior adviser on the coronavirus pandemic.
By state order, theaters went dark, as did other public gatherings, in mid-March 2020 as the pandemic first roared through New York.