New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced May 3 that the tri-state area—including New York City and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut—will end most capacity restrictions beginning May 19 as COVID-19 vaccination rates continue to rise.
The lift allows businesses such as retail shops, restaurants, gyms, salons, and more to fully reopen. The most notable, if misleading, inclusion, is Broadway theatres. Cuomo says that “from a capacity point of view,” Broadway can reopen on that date, while noting that productions wouldn’t necessarily be able to align the myriad moving parts that go into mounting a new show or resuming a long-running staging in that timeframe. Optimistic Broadway insiders are eyeing a fall comeback.
Still, the new policy, made in a regionally coordinated effort to include New Jersey and Connecticut, marks a major green light needed for the industry to welcome back audiences. The move follows New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio sharing his plan to “fully reopen” July 1; that announcement was less a city order and more a declaration of intent, as such calls would have to be made at the state level.
The governor did note that social distancing measures would remain in effect in accordance with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention—unless all attendees provide proof of vaccination or a recent negative test result. Enforced social distancing would render a full capacity audience impossible at any theatre, however, recent one-off concerts from the state’s NY PopsUp program at select Broadway venues have piloted methods to ensure and streamline this verification process.