UPDATE, with video New York City is developing guidelines for Broadway during the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN today, with new rules expected to be issued by tomorrow. Asked whether theatergoers should brace for some kind of change, de Blasio responded, “Absolutely, absolutely.”
“I don’t want to see Broadway go dark if we can avoid it,” de Blasio told the network. “I want to see if we can strike some kind of balance.”
Watch the CNN interview above.
He continued, “What we’re trying to figure out: is there a way to reduce the capacity, reduce the number of people? If we cannot strike that balance, of course, we can go to closure.”
According to de Blasio, his administration is “grappling” with the Broadway issue, with a decision expected “right away.”
The mayor said that more restrictions likely will be forthcoming in New York City in efforts to contain coronavirus spread, possibly including changes to subway operations short of a shutdown.
“We’re gong to have to think very differently,” de Blasio said about the city’s overall response. “Our society is changing by the hour.”
As of Thursday morning, New York City has 62 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including a Broadway usher who recently worked at theaters housing new productions of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and, opening tonight, the musical Six. Both productions are operating on schedule.
Earlier this week, the Broadway League, the trade organization representing theater owners and producers, expressed cautious optimism in the wake of last week’s steady box office reports. The impact on advance ticket sales has been noticeable though not disastrous, insiders say.
Some measures – additional venue cleanings, restricted backstage access and reduced stage door interaction between actors and fans – are underway. Patrons feeling ill with either cold or flu symptoms are being urged to stay home and exchange tickets for future performances.
Broadway currently has 31 productions on the boards, with eight new shows expected to start preview performances over the next few weeks as the important spring season continues.