Broadway Among Few Masking Holdouts as New York Eases COVID Rules

As New York City's mask mandate expired Monday, Broadway remained one of a handful of institutions to continue requiring masks indoors.

The city dropped its face mask and vaccine passport requirements on Monday for an array of public venues including restaurants, gyms and other businesses for the first time since the Omicron variant forced Governor Kathy Hochul to reinstate the mask mandate statewide. Mayor Eric Adams announced last week he would allow the mask mandate to expire due to the city's lower number of COVID-19 cases. This marks a shift in pandemic response from the city once considered the epicenter of the virus in the United States that has exercised caution ever since.

Under the new rules, private businesses are still allowed to have a mask mandate if they choose to do so—and some cultural institutions in the city, such as Broadway, are signaling that they will keep a mask requirement in place.

Broadway is still requiring guests to wear a mask inside the theater unless they are eating or drinking in designated areas, according to the Broadway.org website. Audience members, performer, crew and theater staff are required to show proof of vaccination through at least April 30.

According to recent box office data, the mask requirement has not stopped fans from flocking to their favorite Broadway shows. In the last week of February, shows averaged a capacity rate of more than 92 percent—up from the low 60 percent when Omicron cases were high at the beginning of January.

Broadway is not the only cultural institution to still require masks. The Metropolitan Museum of Art will still require them for the time being but is dropping its vaccine mandate for guests.

Synneve Carlino, chief communications officer at Carnegie Hall, confirmed to Newsweek that guests are still mandated to show proof they have received their COVID-19 vaccination and wear masks.

"We continue to assess this as we review the protocols on an ongoing basis with our medical and public health advisors," Carlino wrote.

Masks are also still required on public transportation, including on the subway and buses—and airports, as mandated by federal law.

COVID-19 cases in New York have City dropped significantly in recent weeks. On Wednesday, the city reported a seven-day-average of 569 new cases per day—a significant drop from one month earlier, when cases reached an average of 43,601 per day, according to the city's COVID-19 data.

"Two years ago, New York City was the epicenter of the pandemic, but thanks to New Yorkers getting vaccinated and getting boosted we have made tremendous progress," Adams said in a statement announcing the changes. "I've said time and time again that the numbers and science will guide us as we continue to recover and rebuild, and now New York City is back, and vaccinations are why we're back."

Other cities that have long had stringent COVID-19 safety measures have seen similar drops in cases recently, prompting them to drop vaccine and mask mandates as well. For instance, Chicago lifted its mask and vaccination requires last month.

Newsweek reached out to the Broadway League for comment Monday morning. This story will be updated with any response.

Updated 03/07/2022 3:54 p.m. ET with statement from Carnegie Hall

Broadway requiring mask as mandate ends

Broadway is among the last masking holdouts as New York City’s mandate expired Monday. Above, a man is seen wearing a mask in Manhattan in July 2021. KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images