Broadway Safety Precautions Expert

After an 18-month COVID-induced shutdown, Broadway hosted its first new musicals of 2021 earlier this week – with some notable changes in operations for public health safety, including mask provisions and a shutdown concessions to ensure compliance with masking.

Other changes will take place behind the scenes. “The biggest change is going to be more air entering buildings and better air,” said Jack Caravanos, clinical professor at the NYU School of Global Public Health, in a recent interview with Yahoo Finance Live. “So the quantity and quality of the incoming air [will be improved]. And there are filters that have been installed in almost every movie theater that can capture the virus particles. So we’ll see some ventilation changes there.

Different protocols exist for different areas within Broadway itself, Carvanos said. For example, smaller areas like the locker room may require different ventilation than open areas like the front of the house.

People gather after the “Hadestown” reopening party at the Walter Kerr Theater in New York, United States on September 2, 2021. REUTERS / Jeenah Moon

Another important change that may persist after this initial reopening is the removal of intermissions during productions. “Yeah, it’s going to be tough,” Carvanos said of the lack of intermission. “The good and the bad there, of course, is that people won’t mix and be tempted to take off their masks. People will not be using the restroom, which is always a challenge in Broadway theaters, queuing for the restroom. But it will be a learning experience. I think they’re going to have to experiment with this for a few months and see where to tweak it.

As the United States enters flu season, concerns about a “twinemia” of the flu and the coronavirus have emerged among medical experts as a primary public health concern.

As a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, theatergoers are currently not allowed behind the scenes to have Playbills signed or meet the actors and actresses. While this may remain the rule for the near future, restrictions on the flow of people behind the scenes may change as vaccination rates rise, Carvanos noted.

“So I think that will come with time, as the vaccination rates in New York are improving more and more, they are well over 80%,” he said. “So I think it’s going to slowly get there, hopefully by spring. “

The costs associated with strict Broadway protocols are nothing to sneeze at. High production costs already make profit margins pretty slim. “So even installing MERV-13 filters, upgraded fans and an upgrade is also very expensive,” Carvanos said. “So it’s going to be a challenge. But luckily there has been some financial support from the state and the federal government to help us get through this period of transition.

“Waitress”, “Hadestown”. “Hamilton”, “Wicked”, “Chicago”, “The Lion King” and “Lackawanna Blues” were among the returning productions at the opening night of the Broadway musicals.

Ihsaan Fanusie is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on twitter @IFanusia.

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Susan W. Lloyd