Coronavirus is closing the curtain on Broadway, at least for a while, as New York state prepares to ban gatherings of 500 people or more in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Smaller events will be required to reduce the number of people in attendance.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the strict new measures in a press conference Thursday, as the number of confirmed cases in the state shot up once again. New York has 328 confirmed cases as of Thursday, up from 216 the day before, including 95 cases in New York City. It has the second-highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S., behind only.
Cuomo said the shutdown of Broadway shows will begin at 5 p.m. Thursday and run through April 12. This comes two days after an usher who worked at two Broadway shows, "Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?" and "Six," tested positive for the virus.
The ban on other large gatherings begins at 5 p.m. Friday. Facilities with an occupancy of fewer than 500 people will have their legal capacity reduced by 50%, Cuomo said. Schools, hospitals, nursing homes and mass transit will be exempt.
Cuomo announced the restrictions just hours after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio saidafter a student's "self-confirmed" positive test for coronavirus, which has not been added to the state database of cases. De Blasio said Thursday morning that he hoped Broadway would not have to shut down, and that there were no plans to close the city's public school or subway systems.
In addition to Broadway, several other iconic cultural attractions in New York City are temporarily closing their doors due to the pandemic, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall. Wednesday night, Cuomo announced the city'sfor the first time in its 258-year history.