New York City mayor outlines plan for Broadway reopening in autumn 2021

'The show must go on,' Bill de Blasio says, with no clear timeline for resumed productions

The box office is closed at the Lyceum Theatre, Friday, March 12, 2021, in New York's Times Square. A year after COVID-19 hit, Broadway theaters are still shuttered with no end in sight. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan to vaccinate performers and theatre producers and eventually allow for the return of Broadway after more than a year.

"It's time to raise the curtain and bring Broadway back," Mr de Blasio said on Thursday.

Vaccination sites will soon be set up in the Broadway district for those involved in productions to be inoculated.

Mr de Blasio also announced a mobile vaccination unit that would inoculate people at off-Broadway sites throughout the city.

He said the city was working on pop-up coronavirus testing sites near theatres and gave details of crowd management for when shows eventually open.

"We have to get the theatre community ready for the fall," Mr de Blasio said. "By the time we get there, the world will be better."

He it was hoped that the plan could help Broadway productions to officially reopen in the autumn of 2021.

Productions have shutdowns in place until June 7, with no clear timeline on reopening.

Theatres have been shut since mid-March 2020, a damaging blow to the city's economy, which depends on tourism, dining and entertainment.

It is estimated that Broadway contributes $15 billion to the city's economy each year.

The industry provided about 100,000 jobs, and staff and performers largely had to seek other entertainment opportunities or find different jobs over the past year.

Many joined the mass departure from the city that has occurred with the pandemic.

“Today’s announcement is an important recognition from the city of New York that a strong theatre industry means a healthy, strong economy,” said Mary McColl, executive director of the Actors’ Equity Association.

But Mr de Blasio's plan depends on approval by New York state.

"We will propose our own ideas to the state, but we need them to take action," he said.

"To put together a Broadway show is a huge endeavour, so they need guidance now."

The question for many theatre operators is what will be the rules for crowd numbers and coronavirus measures.

Many have shared concerns that limiting capacity may make reopening not worthwhile.

New York City has allowed cinemas to reopen at 25 per cent capacity or with a limit of 50 people for each screen. Indoor dining has also reopened at 50 per cent capacity.

Large indoor sports and concert venues have also reopened, with 10 per cent capacity, social distancing and proof of a negative PCR test required for all attending.

The New York Department of Health says about 3,600 infections are recorded each day.

The city was the global centre of the pandemic in March and April 2020.

More than 30,000 New Yorkers have died from Covid-19.