NEW YORK — Masking must go on.
Broadway’s theaters will continue to require that ticketholders wear masks at least through the end of June, the Broadway League said Friday.
The extension from the Broadway League, a trade group that sets coronavirus policy on Broadway, comes as New York rides out another COVID wave, the latest driven by uber-contagious subvariants of the omicron strain.
COVID turned the lights out on Broadway for 16 months, and the Theater District has broadly maintained strict virus precautions, though vaccine mandates dropped at many playhouses this spring.
Despite virus bumps and frequent cancellations, theater has made a resilient comeback in Manhattan. Thirty-five shows are now running in Broadway’s 39 operational playhouses, according to the Broadway League, and attendance is on the upswing.
Weekly attendance has more than doubled after cratering at Christmastime, when the initial omicron wave whipped New York. Ticketed attendance was above 246,000 last week, the Broadway League reported, up from about 100,000 the week of Christmas.
The 75th annual Tony Awards, set for June 12, could help further boost interest in Broadway, a key cog in Midtown Manhattan’s economy that slumbered for so long.
“We’re thrilled that nearly a quarter of a million people are attending Broadway shows weekly in this exciting spring season,” Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, said in a Friday statement. “As always, the safety and security of our cast, crew, and audience has been our top priority.”
“By maintaining our audience masking requirement through at least the month of June, we intend to continue that track record of safety for all, despite the Omicron subvariants,” she added in the statement.
New York City’s weeklong COVID test positivity rate was an eye-popping 9.5% on Friday, according to government figures, though hospital admission rates remained roughly flat. Vaccinations and booster shots provide robust resistance against the worst virus outcomes.
Mayor Eric Adams has resisted returning to citywide mask mandates, even with the city’s official COVID alert level at “High.”
“We’re staying prepared and not panicking,” Adams, mask-clad, said at a City Hall news conference on Wednesday. “When I look at the hospitalizations and deaths, the numbers are stable.”
But the mayor has still encouraged New Yorkers to wear masks inside, and has underlined that he personally covers his face indoors.
“I’m really proud of this city. We’ve been responding with taking our vaccines, taking our booster shots, wearing the mask in our subway systems,” Adams told CNN on Thursday. “We are doing the right things.”
The Broadway League said Friday that it would provide an update next month on its masking rules for the summer. Theatergoers come from all over and share close quarters, often for hours at a time, creating a higher risk level than many other indoor spaces.
The mask mandate is typically followed in theaters — far more assiduously than in other spaces, like the subway — but adherence is not absolute.
Patti LuPone, a two-time Tony winner who is currently performing in a well-reviewed revival of “Company,” unloaded on an audience member during a post-show question-and-answer session this month.
“Put your mask over your nose,” LuPone, 73, said in an exchange that was captured in a viral clip. “That is the rule. If you don’t want to follow the rule, get the [expletive] out.”
State Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-Greenwich Village, who represents the Theater District in the Legislature, welcomed the Broadway League’s extension of the mask mandate.
“I’m with Patti LuPone,” Hoylman said Friday afternoon. “Keep your damn masks on.”
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