The COVID-19 pandemic has been very rough on the live entertainment industry, especially in New York City where Broadway will remain shut down until May of 2021. However other small entertainment venues have been allowed to open around both NYC and the State of New York.
Regions around the state have entered Phase four of reopening and that permits places like casino, bowling alleys and more to reopen for business. Theatres are not on that list. Last week it was announced that movie theaters outside of New York City could reopen to limited capacity and they needed updated air filtration systems in place as well.
Now small venues are wondering when they can resume. Several small theatres and comedy clubs from New York City are suing Governor Andrew Cuomo over the restrictions put in place that have prevented them from reopening.
From the New York Times:
In the lawsuit, the theaters argue that pandemic restrictions have been enforced arbitrarily, noting that bowling alleys, casinos, catering halls, gyms and shopping malls have been allowed to reopen, as have schools, colleges and “Saturday Night Live.” They ask a court to overturn the executive orders barring theaters from holding performances.
Catherine Russell, an actor who is the general manager of the Theater Center, put together the lawsuit. She argues that her venue, which already installed an improved air filtration system, was hoping they could reopen to socially distanced audiences. She also added those audience members would need to wear masks and have their temperatures taken.
In the interview Russell said:
Small theaters are much more capable of doing this safely, and if people walk into our theaters and feel safe and protected, they’ll be more likely to see ‘Hamilton’ or ‘Six’ next summer. Also, people need to go back to work. We were closed with restaurants and bars, but they’ve been open for a while, and it’s actually safer to be in a theater because you keep your mask on.