The vaccine mandate for Broadway performers and other crew members will remain in place, despite an exemption announced Thursday by New York City Mayor Eric Adams.
“Broadway theatres anticipate no change in our protocols based on this announcement. We continue to evaluate our COVID safety protocols for audiences, cast and crew, in concert with our unions and medical experts,” said Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League.
Starting Thursday, Adams said that New York City-based performers and professional athletes would no longer have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to perform or participate in sporting events. In doing so, Adams made these two categories exempt from the city’s workplace vaccine mandate for private employers.
Performers and athletes who played venues in New York City, but lived elsewhere, were already exempt from the city’s mandate. Many see the rule change aimed at helping athletes, such as unvaccinated Nets basketball player Kyrie Irving, return to playing home games.
Broadway employers, who set these mandates for workers, announced their own vaccine requirement for all cast and crew members in July 2021. Individuals who are not vaccinated due to a disability or a sincerely held religious belief are able to request an accommodation from the producer. Actors’ Equity has established safety protocols for workplaces with vaccinated individuals and for those that have unvaccinated individuals, including young children who may not yet be eligible.
After Adams announced the news Thursday, Actors’ Equity President Kate Shindle wrote on Twitter that her union had been unaware about the change before the announcement.
I know I’m not the only union president who was caught by surprise here. Let’s not do it this way again. I can easily organize a meeting between those leaders and you/your staff when major changes are in the pipeline. I’m pretty easy to find…so HMU.
— Kate Shindle/#PassThePROAct (@AEAPresident) March 24, 2022
Theatergoers are also required to provide proof of vaccination and wear a mask to attend Broadway performances. This requirement is currently in place through April 30, 2021, but is up for review on April 1.
These decisions come as the highly transmissible BA.2 Omicron variant becomes the dominant strain in New York. Still, the state is not currently expected to see another large surge in cases, State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said earlier this week.