New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans Thursday to open a dedicated vaccination site for Broadway workers in preparation for a fall reopening of the industry.
The city said it will open a vaccination site on Broadway and a mobile unit for Off-Broadway workers, as well as pop-up COVID-19 testing sites by the theaters. De Blasio said his office is also working with Broadway industry leaders on plans to control crowds before and after shows.
“The show will go on on Broadway and Off-Broadway when we get to the fall,” de Blasio said.
That’s not to say that theater workers will now qualify for vaccination based on their employment. Rather, de Blasio said the site is intended to make vaccinations more accessible to those who are eligible, while noting that President Biden has called on states to make vaccines eligible to all adults beginning May 1.
New York State sets vaccine eligibility requirements and thus far has not opened the vaccination process to those workers.
The vaccination effort will begin in April, de Blasio said, and the sites will be staffed by theater workers. Exact locations have not yet been announced.
De Blasio said he believes a September reopening on Broadway is reasonable and that he is making these announcements now to allow for the lead time industry leaders say is needed to prepare for reopening.
This follows the timelines that have been floated by Broadway producers, as well as Dr. Anthony Fauci. However, an exact reopening date has not yet been announced. Broadway theaters are currently closed through May 30, 2021.
The city is also calling on New York state for guidelines on how vaccinations and mask wearing will play into getting theater workers back to work and audiences into theaters.
“We’ve got to lay the groundwork for a strong comeback for Broadway and Off-Broadway,” he said.
Actors’ Equity, which had been calling for a prioritization of theater workers in the vaccination process, praised Thursday’s announcement, as did the Broadway League and the musicians’ union Local 802.
“Today’s announcement is an important recognition from the City of New York that a strong theatre industry means a healthy, strong economy,” Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity, said in a press release. “Mayor de Blasio clearly understands that we cannot socially distance in our work, making the availability of vaccines and testing critical for maintaining a safe workplace.”