New York aims to reopen Broadway, large venues, with extensive Covid testing, Gov. Cuomo says

All theater performances in New York are suspended through the remainder of 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak. Pictured, shuttered Broadway theaters.
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York plans to use extensive coronavirus testing as a way to reopen its struggling entertainment venues that have remained shuttered for months during the pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday.

The coronavirus has crippled the live theater industry, especially in its central hub in New York City. Broadway has been closed since March 2020 and likely won’t reopen until at least May 30 of this year, according to the Broadway League, a trade organization representing producers and theater owners.

However, Cuomo said there is hope that New York could allow Broadway, alongside other entertainment venues, to reopen with some limitations. The state would likely impose a cap on audience sizes, require every person to provide a negative Covid-19 test before entering and require proper air ventilations systems in theaters, the governor said.

“Would I go see a play and sit in a playhouse with 150 people? If the 150 people were tested, and they were all negative, yes I would do that,” Cuomo said during a press briefing. “I think reopening with testing is going to be the key.”

Cuomo said he wasn’t immediately able to give a timeline for reopening larger venues. Much of the state’s plan hinges on a pilot program it conducted in January, where nearly 7,000 football fans were allowed to attend the Buffalo Bill’s home playoff game as long as they presented a negative Covid-19 test.

The governor previously announced at the end of January that New York would allow some venues to reopen for wedding ceremonies with limited capacity beginning on March 15. People will be able to hold a wedding if everyone attending is tested before the event and the organizers receive approval from their local health department beforehand, he said.

“Opening sites with testing is something where New York wants to lead the way,” Cuomo said on Monday.

This is a developing story. Please check back later for updates.

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