Broadway will remain dark through May 2021, extending the prolonged shutdown that began in spring due to the pandemic.

The Broadway League announced Friday that tickets for shows through March 30, 2021 will be refunded. The theater community initially hoped to return to the stage in January. The reopening date has been pushed back several times in recent months and could be delayed again without a coronavirus vaccine. With theaters closed since March, the shutdown marks the longest period of time that the Great White Way has been dark.

Coronavirus has been devastating to the live theater industry, particularly in New York City. The city’s economy has taken a huge hit, as theatergoers typically contribute billions through tickets and nearby restaurants and hotels.

“With nearly 97,000 workers who rely on Broadway for their livelihood and an annual economic impact of $14.8 billion to the city, our membership is committed to re-opening as soon as conditions permit us to do so. We are working tirelessly with multiple partners on sustaining the industry once we raise our curtains again,” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League.

Broadway performances have been suspended since March 12. At the time, 31 musicals and plays were running, including eight new shows that were set to open. The Broadway League said it continues to work with city and state officials to find the safest way to reopen. Broadway shows will determine their dates to return on an individual basis.

Already, numerous shows like Disney’s musical “Frozen,” Martin McDonagh’s play “Hangmen” and Edward Albee’s revival of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” with Laurie Metcalf, have announced they won’t return when Broadway resumes.

Actors’ Equity Association, the national labor union representing professional actors and stage managers in live theatre, called the decision to stay closed “difficult but responsible” and urged for government assistance for those out of work.

“This is a deeply painful time for everyone who depends on the arts for their livelihood. We are at this moment because, seven months into the pandemic, our nation still lacks a coherent national strategy for masks and testing which could help bring the virus under control,” said Mary McColl, executive director for Actors’ Equity Association. “Too many in the industry need help now as we face another six months without work. The ongoing lack of work in the arts means we face a critical need for a federal COBRA health insurance subsidies, renewed federal unemployment benefits and arts funding. Washington must act.”