NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As the curtain rises on Broadway, new COVID rules are taking center stage.
Friday, the Broadway League announced all 41 theaters will require audience members be fully vaccinated.READ MORE: Johnson & Johnson: 2nd Dose Of COVID Vaccine Offers Stronger Protection
Fans of the musical “Six,” as well as all other Broadway shows, will need to show proof of full vaccination to attend.
“We have to keep people safe,” Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin told CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon.
“Fully vaccinated” means that everyone involved won’t be eligible to attend or participate until 14 days after receiving either their second dose of a two-shot vaccine, or 14 days after a single dose vaccine.
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Masks will also be required for audience members throughout performances.
“There is free will and our audiences can make the decision not to return. We hope that they will, but the scientists and the facts are pretty clear that vaccinations work,” said St. Martin.
The mandate is not entirely surprising for many in the industry. These policies are in effect through October.
Watch Kiran Dhillon’s report —
“Pass Over,” which begins previews next Wednesday, already had a vaccination requirement in place for everyone.
Producer Matt Ross was thrilled with the new rules and said, while they may impact ticket sales, they’re worth it to keep everyone healthy.
“People will come back at their own speed. That’s why we don’t have 50,000 people on one night. We have 1,100,” Ross said. “There will be people who are ready on night one. There will be people who are ready on week two. There are people who will be ready in September, and that I say, ‘We welcome you.'”
In addition to being vaccinated, cast and crew for the show also have to be tested for COVID three times a week.
Director Danya Taymor said the team welcomes the extra precautions.
“There was not a single complaint. Everybody just kind of stepped up. We had buy-in from cast, crew, producers, everyone. I think everybody’s just grateful to do what we do,” Taymor said.
There are exceptions. Children under 12, people with a medical condition or certain religious belief that prevents vaccination are excluded.READ MORE: New Video Shows Brawl Outside Carmine's: Restaurant Says It Was Over Proof Of Vaccination, Defense Attorney Claims Hostess Used Racial Slur
People in those categories will be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of start of the show, or a negative COVID-19 test taken within six hours of the curtain rising.
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Friday night, many had their COVID vaccination cards in hand to enter designated sections at Bryant Park’s Picnic Performances.
“I’m fully vaccinated, and I’m fine with that. Very comfortable. I’m ready for this concert,” Marilyn Hunt said.
“I feel like it’s proper because the new variant’s coming. It’s spreading really rapidly,” New Jersey resident Anna Chowdhury said.
While some people are on board, others said the mandate is a slippery slope.
“You say they can’t go to a show without a vaccine. Then, can you not go on the subway? Can you not go, wherever?” said David Harp from New Jersey.
“What happened to my body, my health? You do what you want to do as a human being,” another man said.
Longtime Broadway performer Quinn VanAntwerp says it’s the right move but may slow Broadway’s long-awaited recovery.
“I think there is a little bit of a worry that making it more prohibitive for audience members, not just if you’re vaccinated or not … will make it harder for those seats to be filled,” he said.
Many performers, like musician Jeff Nelson, can’t wait to hit the stage again and believes the long-term benefits of the protocols outweigh any immediate concerns.
“I think to rush back and to have things not, to have people not be in a safe environment, we could face a backlash at some point. Nobody wants to shut down and go through this all over again,” he told CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas.
The Broadway League said the policy will be reviewed for performances beginning in November and beyond, and may be relaxed depending on conditions.
The Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall also will restrict performances to only vaccinated patrons. Everyone will need to show proof that they are fully vaccinated. Children under the age of 12, who are not yet eligible for COVID shots, will not be allowed to attend.New York City Teachers, Parents Voice Concerns About Changing School COVID Safety Protocols
CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon contributed to this report.