STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — All entertainment venues — including theaters, bars and comedy clubs — are allowed to reopen on April 2 — but at a significantly reduced capacity amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the state announced on Wednesday.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said all events, arts and entertainment venues can reopen at 33% capacity, or up to 100 people indoors and up to 200 people outdoors.
However, if a venue decides to require attendees to present proof of negative test prior to entry, capacity can increase up to 150 people indoors and up to 500 people outdoors, said the governor’s office.
Social distancing and face coverings will be required by all attendees, as well as strict adherence to all applicable Department of Health guidance.
“New Yorkers have done a tremendous job working to defeat COVID, and we’re gradually loosening restrictions as the numbers reduce and the public health improves. It’s clear that if we remain vigilant, we will reach the light at the end of the tunnel,” Cuomo said.
“While we continue to expand access to the vaccine throughout the state, New Yorkers should double down on the behaviors that make such an important different fighting this pandemic — washing hands, wearing masks and social distancing. This is a tough footrace, but the infection rate is down and the vaccination rate is up, and New Yorkers will get through this together as long as we stay touch and keep this momentum heading in the right direction,” he added.
Even though this allows venues, like the St. George Theatre, to reopen, the operators of the local theater said it’s not economically feasible to do so with the limited capacity.
“This announcement is a step in the right direction, but it adds no relief at this time for venues of our nature, as hosting events for 100 to 150 people is not financially possible in our 1,900-seat venue without substantial support from New York State,” said Doreen Cugno, president and CEO of the St. George Theatre. “While it definitely is a sign of progress, we need permission to open with at least 50% to 75% capacity to consider scheduling new events at the St. George Theatre.”
Cugno added that if the theater could open at 33% capacity of the allowable occupancy they would “open the doors to community events, tribute shows, dance recitals, etc…”
And it seems Broadway productions also will not be economically viable at such a reduced capacity.
Charlotte St. Martin, the president of the Broadway League, told The New York Times that the new rules will not affect commercial productions of Broadway plays and musicals. Those shows are still likely to open after Labor Day, she told the media outlet.
“For a traditional Broadway show, the financial model just doesn’t work,” said Martin in the report. “How do we know that? Because shows that get that kind of attendance close.”
LIVE TICKETED EVENTS
During the pandemic, the State Liquor Authority said that all events for which people need to buy tickets at bars to see a music performance were prohibited. And it banned bar owners from collecting “cover charges” at the door. Often, that is the way venues pay the bands they hire to entertain patrons. Venues also couldn’t advertise live entertainment.
This new guidance lifts all those mandates and institutes the new guidance come April 2, according to the state.
Cuomo also announced that beginning March 22, residential gatherings of up to 25 people can be held outdoors. Indoor residential gatherings remain capped at 10 people to reduce the continued risk of spread, the governor’s office said.
Also, non-residential social gatherings of up to 100 people can occur indoors and gatherings up to 200 people can occur outdoors, according to the state.