Broadway throughout July will allow attendees in the audience to be “mask optional” at performances, the Broadway League announced Tuesday.
But don’t throw away those masks so quick. The decision for now is just for July, and protocols for August and beyond will be evaluated on a monthly basis as the Broadway league continues to monitor COVID conditions.
Audience members have been required to mask up during performances since last July. And the mandate to be vaccinated was lifted for most performances back on May 1.
“Millions of people enjoyed the unique magic of Broadway by watching the 75th Tony Award Ceremony recently. Millions more have experienced Broadway LIVE in theatres in New York City and throughout the U.S., since we reopened last fall. We’re thrilled to welcome even more of our passionate fans back to Broadway in the exciting 22-23 season that has just begun,” Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League, said in a statement.
Data released by the Broadway League back in May showed that since re-opening in the fall, 2021-2022 revenue and attendance for the season took a major hit and fell from its historic record of $1.829 billion set by the 2018-19 season to the total of $845,414,915, or a plunge of 54% compared to pre-pandemic levels. That same percentage marks the difference in audience attendance, which hit a record high of 14,768,254 in 2019 and fell to 6,729,143 this past year.
Sixteen out of those 42 weeks during the 2021-2022 season saw numerous cancelled performances due to COVID, including during the busy Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
The recent Tony Awards had attendees in the orchestra section closest to the stage and that appeared on camera attend the awards show maskless, while those in the higher decks still had to wear masks. And Hugh Jackman had announced one day after the Tony Awards that he had tested positive for COVID.