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Broadway Makes Masks Optional for Attendees This July


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Masks will be optional for theatergoers attending Broadway shows in July.

The Broadway League made the “mask optional” policy announcement Tuesday, which removes the industrywide mandate that has been in place since July 2021. That mandate is set to expire after June 30. 

While masks will not be mandated, the Broadway League is still encouraging audience members to wear them.

“Millions of people enjoyed the unique magic of Broadway by watching the 75th Tony Award Ceremony recently. Millions more have experienced Broadway live in theaters in New York City and throughout the U.S., since we reopened last fall. We’re thrilled to welcome even more of our passionate fans back to Broadway in the exciting 22-23 season that has just begun,” said Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League. 

Masking protocols for August and the future will be evaluated on a monthly basis. 

Broadway was one of the last remaining industries with a mask mandate and was one of the first to institute it. 

The mandate has remained in place as Broadway weathered waves of COVID-19, with several canceled performances in the fall, winter and even recently due to multiple castmembers testing positive for the virus. There have not been public reports of audience members contracting COVID-19 in the theater, the masks having served as a protective layer between the audience members and the unmasked, but frequently tested, actors. 

Still, it’s a policy that many industry insiders have grumbled may have kept audience members away from the theater, in a time when the industry is seeking to rebuild. Actors’ Equity declined to comment on the end of the mask mandate.

The mandate for proof of vaccination for audience members, also set in July 2021, was lifted at most Broadway theaters starting May 1. 

The decision on masks comes about one week after the Tony Awards, where the nominees and other audience members sitting in the orchestra section, i.e. the most televised section, were not required to wear masks. These audience members had to submit a negative PCR test, while those sitting in higher sections still had to wear masks. A day after the Tony Awards, nominee Hugh Jackman, who also performed during the ceremony, announced that he tested positive for COVID-19. 

New York City is in the process of coming down from its most recent COVID-19 wave. On Tuesday, New York City downgraded its alert level to medium, which includes that recommendation that all New Yorkers wear a mask in any public, indoor setting.

Since his tenure started in January, Mayor Eric Adams has removed many of the city’s mask mandates, including at public schools. On June 13, Adams also made masks optional for 2- to 4-year-old children in school or other organized settings.

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