Broadway has been back in business for three months and COVID-19 safety protocols have been keeping thousands of patrons safe eight shows a week. Whether you're already in your Broadway groove, or you're just starting to think about visiting for the first time, we're here to give you the most up-to-date information on how to prepare for a night at the theatre. The rules have remained largely the same since Broadway's grand re-opening, but in light of a few tweaks, here's an easy cheat sheet to put your mind at ease.
Do I have to figure out a different set of COVID safety procedures for each Broadway theatre?
Short answer: No. When in doubt, look to the Broadway League.
There have been a lot of cooks in the kitchen when it comes to Broadway COVID safety policies. There's Mayor Bill De Blasio, who has sporadically announced rules for all of New York City. And then there are the Broadway theatre owners themselves: The Shuberts and Nederlanders, who, put together, own over half of the Broadway houses; Jujamcyn, which owns another five theatres; Ambassador Theatre Group with two; Disney Theatrical Group, which resides at the New Amsterdam; and a smattering of other not-for-profit companies, which fill out much of the rest of Broadway real estate.
Fortunately for our collective theatregoing sanity, the Broadway League, which represents all 41 Broadway theatres, took the reins on this matter. At the end of July, the Broadway League announced its over-arching COVID safety plan that would apply to every Broadway theatre through the end of October—followed shortly thereafter by a nearly identical city-wide vaccine mandate for restaurants, gyms, and theatres from Mayor De Blasio. The League's latest update to its safety protocols establishes the rules that will apply through the end of February 2022, so whether you're going to a Shubert, Nederlander, or any other variety of Broadway house, it's the League's rules that you'll be following—at least for the foreseeable future.
So what are the rules?
For all of the Broadway theatre currently operating, it comes down to three easy steps:
Step 1: Be vaccinated. And by vaccinated, the Broadway League means your final dose has had at least 14 days to get antibodies flowing. Aside from that, it's dealer's choice among this phenomenal list of eight vaccines approved by the WHO (for international guests, two doses of any "mix and match" combination of vaccines is acceptable). This now applies to anyone 12 and up and will apply to children 5 and up as of January 29, so if you're planning to surprise your kids, grandkids, nieces, or nephews with tickets to The Lion King, make sure they will be fully vaccinated by showtime.
Step 2: Bring proof that you were vaccinated to the theatre, including a government-issued photo ID—if you're ages 12-18, a school ID is just fine.
Step 3: Wear a mask for the whole show, excepting only times you might be actively eating or drinking in your seat before the show or during intermission.
What counts as "proof" of vaccination?
Here are your three best options:
1. A physical vaccination card
2. A photo of a physical vaccination card
3. A digital vaccine app (e.g. Excelsior, Docket, NYC Covid Safe, Clear)
What if you can't get vaccinated?
There are two scenarios in which you can enter a Broadway theatre unvaccinated:
1. If you have a medical condition that precludes it
2. If you have a "sincerely held" religious belief that precludes it
In both scenarios, instead of providing proof of vaccination, you can either…
1. Show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of the performance.
2. Show proof of a negative COVID-19 rapid antigen test taken within 6 hours of the performance.
What about those newly vaccine-eligible 5-11-year-olds?
Beginning January 29, theatregoers ages 5-11 will need to show proof of complete COVID-19 vaccination and adhere to the rules stated above for ticket holders ages 12 and up. Until then, they'll need to be accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult and show proof of at least one dose of an FDA- or WHO-approved vaccine.
These are the rules that will apply through April 30, 2022, so keep your eyes peeled for updates later this year. However, if you've already scheduled a night out at the theatre, grab your cell phone, your driver's license, and a cozy-yet-fashionable mask, and you're as ready for a night on the Great White Way as you've ever been.