Broadway is lifting its mask mandate.
Starting in July, mask-wearing at all 41 Broadway theaters will be optional, the Broadway League announced Tuesday. The announcement comes as COVID rates have begun to decline in the five boroughs. Mandates continue to be in place on mass transit such as subways and buses.
Broadway theaters, owners and producers have privately grumbled that the facial covering requirement has depressed ticket sales, even as some artists believe that mandates are important for keeping casts and crew members free from COVID. In its announcement, the Broadway League said that the policy will “be evaluated on a monthly basis as we continue to monitor the science.” It also said that “audience members are still encouraged to wear masks in theatres.”
In May, most Broadway theaters lifted the requirement that audience members provide proof of vaccination to enter ventures. Mask requirements and vaccine checks have already been eliminated at New York City restaurants, movie theaters and other venues as the city has attempted to return to a pre-pandemic state of normalcy.
“Millions of people enjoyed the unique magic of Broadway by watching the 75th Tony Award Ceremony recently,” Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League said. “Millions more have experienced Broadway live in theatres in New York City and throughout the U.S., since we reopened last fall.”
St. Martin may be accentuating the positive in her statement, but ticket sales remain depressed. Revenues on Broadway were down more than 50% in the 2021 to 2022 season and many shows were forced to cancel performances due to COVID outbreaks in their casts.