Can I Go To See This Show? Should I Wear a Mask? It varies.


During the preview performances in June, the New York Classical Theater was only allowed to play “King Lear” for up to 75 spectators outdoors. These customers were social distancing on picnic blankets, wore masks, and were unable to eat or drink during the game.

same month, Foo Fighters played a full show Inside Madison Square Garden 15,000 grafted fans. Few of them had face coverings; none were necessary.

As New York and the rest of the country embark on a slow journey towards something resembling pre-pandemic life, rapidly changing protocols in the state and across the country Venue operators have created entirely different environments in theatres, music venues and sports arenas as they try to balance ongoing coronavirus concerns with their business plans and their customers’ desire for normalization.

Different approaches to venues, perhaps just a few miles away, have resulted in what some art officials say is a sense of confusion and whiplash.

“There’s disappointment,” said Stephen Burdman, artistic director of NY Classical Theatre. “Things were not communicated well.”

In mid-June, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo abolished many of the state’s rights. Covid-19 After 70 percent of New York City adults received at least one dose of the vaccine, the restrictions essentially paved the way for most areas to do whatever they wanted – at least when it comes to the state. The state does not require a venue to check a person’s vaccination status; and in all but the largest indoor venues, the policy of masking and social distancing is now left to the discretion of the performers.

Many venues have tried to create an environment that reminds them as little as possible of the pandemic. When Bruce Springsteen kicked off the Broadway comeback last monthA packed St. Petersburg collection of 1,721 sparsely masked, grafted fans. He played for the James Theatre. NS Outdoor amphitheater in Little IslandMore than 600 people stacked in curved wooden benches – a few of them wearing masks.

And in Feinstein’s/54 Below, officials noted the added benefit of requiring vaccinations to attend: Customers don’t need to wear masks as they enjoy drinks, dinner, and the show.

“Safety is paramount,” said Richard Frankel, one of the owners of the venue. “After security, we want people to be comfortable and happy.”

Those who want to participate in the Off Broadway sound experience “BlindnessAt the Daryl Roth Theater, for example, they are no longer required to complete a health questionnaire or have their temperature checked. However, the venue continues to require audience members to maintain social distancing and cover their faces while inside the theatre.

The People’s Theater is among the institutions seeking the middle ground.

Authorities announced in early June They plan to allow only 428 people to attend each performance of the famous Shakespeare in the Park, state rules as the reason why they had to set such sharp limits on attendance. Then on June 24, the people said they would As the government lifted restrictions, it significantly increased the Delacorte Theater’s capacity for free performances of “Happy Wives” to 1,468 seats.

“The Governor’s decision to lift restrictions acknowledges a beautiful truth: We are finally starting to recover from Covid-19,” Public’s artistic director Oskar Eustis said in a statement.

Delacorte now has both “full capacity” sections for people who have proven fully vaccinated, and “physically distanced” sections for others. Everyone should wear a face mask at all times when entering and walking around the theater, regardless of vaccination status. But whether spectators need to wear masks while sitting depends on the section they are sitting in.

Arts authorities also have to contend with city and union rules created to ensure performances are safe. Although the New York Classical Theater performed outdoors, city parks still had to abide by restrictions imposed by the actors’ union, which set permits and the rules under which their members were allowed to work.

The city permit for the theater’s June preview performances has set a limit on how big an audience can be, but city officials say that limit was lifted on July 6. . The union said the rule was only in effect until early June, but Burdman said it wasn’t notified of any updates to the rules until June 30.

In an interview in early July, Burdman said he hesitated to detail the rules of performance regarding the pandemic, for fear that his understanding would be out of date when an article is published.

“Honestly, things change so fast that I don’t want something to go under pressure and not be appropriate,” he said. “No one is completely clear.”

Asked about the current state of the game on Friday, Burdman said the rules were finally clear. The audience no longer requires social distancing, wearing masks, can eat and drink again during the performance, and capacity limits have returned to normal.

The pace of change has also outstripped Feinstein’s efforts to create a nice, highly organized security manual, Frankel said. His team began compiling the book as early as April 2020, but it had to be updated so many times over the course of a year that it was almost instantly reinstated when it was published. “It was a beautiful document,” he complained.

Large indoor event venues still have to follow slightly stricter government guidelines. People who show proof of vaccination are no longer required to wear masks or social distancing in such venues. However, unvaccinated individuals must show evidence of a recent negative coronavirus test and wear a mask while inside to be admitted.

“It’s a bit overwhelming to be around people again,” said Molly Wissell, 31, of Virginia, as she waited to enter the Foo Fighters concert at Madison Square Garden last month. “Standing in line and not wearing our masks makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong.”

Clinging to the stands, one concert attendee openly bragged about gaining entry, despite saying he wasn’t vaccinated.

About an hour ago, Marianna Terenzio, 30, from Battery Park, said she’s glad there are rules that limit who can attend the show.

“I like that they ask people to show proof of vaccination,” she said. “I definitely feel safer.”

Michael Paulson, Julia Jacobs, and Jon Caramanica contributed to the reporting.


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