New York bans major gatherings, Broadway goes dark

New York bans major gatherings, Broadway goes dark

Broadway theaters are set to temporarily dim their lights following orders from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who banned large gatherings of 500 people or more across New York on Thursday. The precautionary measure is being taken in an attempt to quell the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

The ban goes into effect at 5 p.m. Thursday for all 41 Broadway theaters in New York City, while other venues and gathering places will see the ban take hold at 5 p.m. on Friday. The restriction does not extend to schools, hospitals, nursing homes or public transit.

In an announcement, the Broadway League stated that performances would be suspended through April 12 in accordance to Gov. Cuomo’s mandate and in “support of the health and well-being of the theatregoing public, as well as those who work in the theatre industry.”

“Our top priority has been and will continue to be the health and well-being of Broadway theatregoers and the thousands of people who work in the theatre industry every day, including actors, musicians, stagehands, ushers and many other dedicated professionals,” Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, said in a statement. “Broadway has the power to inspire, enrich and entertain, and together we are committed to making that vital spirit a reality. Once our stages are lit again, we will welcome fans back with open arms so that they can continue to experience the joy, heart and goodwill that our shows so passionately express every night.”

The decision follows news that an usher who worked at two theaters owned by the Shubert Organization and the Nederlander Organization tested positive for COVID-19.

“Immediately upon learning of the positive test, both organizations began taking every step necessary to ensure the safety of our audiences, performers, crew and building staff,” the organizations said in a joint statement.

On Thursday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio explained that he was working on new measures, though he was hoping that they would not have to completely draw the curtain on Broadway, which grossed $1.8 billion last season.

“I don’t want to see Broadway go dark, if we can avoid it,” de Blasio said on CNN. “I want to see if we can strike some kind of balance.”

The dimming of Broadway adds to a growing list of arts venues that have shuttered in an attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus. On Thursday, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that it would be closed starting Friday. The New York Public Library stated that they would be suspending all programs and events, though the branches would remain open.

ALL ARTS is tracking the status of closures, cancellations and postponements. Up-to-date information can be found here.