Governor Cuomo announced on Thursday, March 12, that all Broadway shows would be closed due to Coronavirus outbreak, effective 5pm that night. The news came one day after confirmation that two Broadway ushers had tested positive for COVID-19.
Cuomo confirmed the decision to close Broadway shows as a precaution via Twitter, writing in two separate tweets “We are taking new actions to reduce the density of people across the state. Starting Friday at 5pm, gatherings with 500 people or more will not be permitted in NYS. Additionally, for facilities with an occupancy of 500 or fewer, we are reducing the legal capacity by 50%… For Broadway theaters in Manhattan, these rules will go into effect at 5pm TODAY. We have already spoken to the theaters about these new measures and they agreed. The news came hours after Deadline reported that Broadway producers had scheduled an emergency meeting to discuss a potential month-long shutdown of all shows to prevent further spread of the virus.
Currently, Broadway is expected to resume shows after the Easter holiday, celebrated on Sunday, April 12.
The Month-Long Shutdown of All Broadway Shows Could Cost the Industry Over $100 Million in Box Office Sales
Broadway has long served as a leading beneficiary of New York City’s booming tourist industry, with almost 15 million global attendees filling show seats last year. For this reason, it does make sense to shut down theaters while the pandemic continues to spread, in order to prevent further infection among attendees, cast, and crew.
The decision will have an immense economic impact on the industry, however. According to Deadline, the decision to shut down all Broadway shows will cost Broadway over $100 million in ticket sales alone.
Prior to the shutdown, many Broadway shows began selling tickets at a steeply discounted rate, to try to fill seats left empty due to coronavirus fears. Producer Scott Rudin put leftover tickets for his shows on sale for only $50 per ticket in an effort to maintain audiences.
The Shutdown Will Impact Several New Broadway Shows That Were Expected to Open This Month
The new Broadway show “Six” was supposed to open on Thursday, March 12, with tickets available to the public for shows starting Friday, March 13. In light of the immediate, temporary closing of all Broadway shows, that opening night performance is not expected to happen as scheduled.
One day before the shutdown was announced, it was confirmed that a Broadway usher who worked at both “Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf?” and “Six” had contracted Coronavirus.
Prior to Cuomo announcing the 5pm shutdown of all Broadway shows, Laura Heywood was updating concerned fans and ticketholders about the status of each theater’s Thursday shows, paying special attention to the “Six” opening night performance. As of 2pm, she reported that “Six” was still planning to open with their evening show; however, after the Broadway shutdown was confirmed, she reported “[For what it’s worth], @SixBroadway box office says they’re still waiting for official word from the @BroadwayLeague. If the #BroadwayShutdown were to start at 8pm tonight instead of 5pm, the 90-min @SixBroadway could still hold #openingnight… just saying.”
With the Broadway shutdown currently in effect through April 12, “Six” is not the only Broadway opening likely to be affected. “Sing Street,” which quickly transferred to Broadway following a successful off-Broadway run, was scheduled to begin previews at the Lyceum Theater on March 26 and open on April 19.
Other Broadway show openings expected to be impacted by the shutdown include “Diana,” “Plaza Suite,” “American Buffalo,” “Birthday Candles,” “Take Me Out,” “Flying Over Sunset,” “How I Learned to Drive,” and “Caroline or Change.”