During a virtual conference presented by the Association of Performing Arts Professionals January 9, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said he believed that theatres could be safe to open for business some time in the fall, according to The New York Times.
That prediction, however, depends on the rollout of the vaccine and the country reaching herd immunity, vaccinating between 70 and 85 percent of the country.
“If everything goes right, [herd immunity] will occur some time in the fall of 2021,” Dr. Fauci said, “so that by the time we get to the early to mid fall, you can have people feeling safe performing onstage as well as people in the audience.”
Dr. Fauci also explained that theatres that possess proper air filters and good ventilation may be able to reopen without restrictions—other than theatregoers wearing masks, which may need to be worn for the foreseeable future. Producers have stated that reduced capacity, for instance, is one of the major roadblocks in the financial viability of reopening.
“I think you can then start getting back to almost full capacity of seating,” Dr. Fauci said. He also urged more research on theatres’ ventilation quality, referring to a German study that suggested an August indoor concert, assembled by scientists, had “low to very low” impact on the spread of the coronavirus when there was adequate ventilation, limited capacity, and strict hygiene protocols. Another suggestion was to ask audience members show proof of a negative virus test, as is now required by some U.S. airlines.
“We’ll be back in the theatres,” he said. “Performers will be performing, audiences will be enjoying it. It will happen.”
Currently, all Broadway shows will remain dark through May 30.