With No Obvious End In Sight While Infections Continue To Rise, Many Wonder When Broadway Theatres In New York City Might Be Able To Reopen Again Post COVID-19 Outbreak.

Broadway Shutdown With No End In Sight

The Coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic has swept the nation, and it has been especially bad in NYC resulting in a huge amount of infections and many fatalities. It now seems like such a minor and inconsequential matter that Broadway theatres closed down early in the pandemic and every Broadway theatre on the Great White Way now sits empty, with little indication when life can return to normal.

The Broadway shutdown started with an official ruling from the NY State Governor, Andrew Cuomo on March 12th 2020, where he stated that all of the Broadway theatres were to be closed until further notice.

Latest COVID-19 Statistics in NYC

On April 1st, 2020, New York State gained the dubious accolade of becoming the world’s epicenter for the COVID-19 Coronavirus. On that day, NYC had more infections than any other city in the world. As of April 2nd, 2020 there are 47,439 confirmed cases in New York City and 1,374 deaths have been attributed to the virus. At a national level, there are now 226,378 documented infections, but experts predict that this number is woefully inaccurate and the true number could be closer to 1.2 million people as most people cannot get a test, some people are asymptomatic and others are in denial.

NYC alone accounts for nearly a quarter of the official national infections at a whopping 21.9%. NYC’s growing number of new positive patients increases by over 4,000 people a day. Less than one week ago, the number was under 2,000 new cases per day. The rapid uptick in new cases in NYC every day will likely continue to grow, and this is the main concern of the NY State governor, Andrew Cuomo, and the reason why it may be many more weeks, if not months before NYC will begin to open back up and begin to operate as normal, or even a new normal, what ever that looks like.

Andrew Cuomo Fox 5 Apex Chart
Andrew Cuomo shares COVID-19 Coronavirus infections, apex and predictions on Fox 5 News

COVID-19 Testing is Woefully Inadequate, Making the Predicted Numbers of Infected Difficult to Qualify

Columbia University’s epidemiology department predicts that the peak for the U.S. infections may not be until June 30th, 2020 or even later than that. The New York Times has projected that the peak number of active COVID-19 patients in New York City will be closer to the beginning of June, 2020. The reported infected numbers in the U.S. have been predicted to be anywhere between 20% and 50% of the actual number of cases in the country, and only 10% of real cases in the world, as testing is not really viable or even available for most. Many individuals, especially with lower-class backgrounds, have not been able to get tested for the virus.

Currently, it is the case that if one person in a household gets tested and is diagnosed positive for Coronavirus COVID-19, they are sent home and told that the rest of their household also has the virus without actually administering a test and without adding them to the total infected tally. The average US household holds 2.6 people, but many homes in the NYC area have 5 or more people living in them, especially lower income demographics, where the virus thrives when humans are in close quarters with each other.

Data on the Apex of Infections and the Apex of Fatalities Help Determine the End Date of Pandemic

Obviously the apex curve of COVID-19 infections looks very different to the apex curve of the associated deaths. The time gap between the two apexes is estimated by experts to be about two to three weeks. Behind the apex of the curve there is going to be a lot of residual infection and subsequent deaths trailing for many months, if not years. There seems to be a number of different charts that provide different outcomes to the rate of infection and these are based on what measures that the population takes to increase social distancing.

Examining the Coronavirus Data

All of these current charts share one thing in common, which is that the apex lands on the same date, the only difference is the amount of infections is much lower. Previous charts had shown that with some control measures, like social distancing and a stay-at-home policy, the apex could be moved, but the area under the curve actually ended up being the same. Therefore, the total number of resultant infections was exactly the same, but just spread out over a longer period of time, which allows medical professionals to not become overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases, resulting in less deaths.

This pandemic is clearly new ground for this city and this country and once it is all over the government should be able to better assess the data and be better prepared for something similar in the future.

Damian Bazadona at Situation Marketing surveys Broadway professionals
Damian Bazadona at Situation Marketing Conducts Survey of 140 Professionals on the Front Lines of Theatre

What is the Expected Date When Broadway Theatres Will Reopen?

Based on all the available infection data, information on the virus, mortality charts and insider political chatter about the Governors appetite to get the state up and running again, a somewhat-educated guess is that the full set of Broadway theatres will not open until June 1st 2020, at the very earliest. June 15th, 2020 may be more likely, with July 1st, 2020 being the conservative estimate.

People do not want to say it, in the hope that it will not be true, but these dates seems fairly reasonable given all the current data and circumstances. Even with those dates in mind, Broadway theatres will not be full for quite some time and audiences may still understandably be concerned about getting an infection after the apex of the main infection curve has passed.

Worries About Winter

The Winter season in New York often brings a renewed risk of infection of the regular seasonal influenza and it remains to be seen whether or not the COVID-19 virus follows a similar program. If it does, then the whole of 2020 will be a wash for Broadway and all large events until a COVID-19 vaccine is approved and delivered to the population. It is expected that the vaccine will be distributed using a lottery system based on birthday month and day.

On Broadway, with an ageing audience and cramped theatres, NYC, and Broadway theatre may never actually fully recover and many arts professionals may be now be looking for new jobs or 2nd careers. NYC and the rest of the country are not going to return to normal operations all at once, as it will be a gradual re-opening and adjustment for people who have been following the CDC and national guidelines of social distancing and self quarantine.

Past Predictions That Have Been Wrong

President Trump originally said that April 12th, 2020 (Easter) will be the day when the country would 'reopen'. The new official date goal is April 30th, 2020. The Broadway League stated that April 12th, 2020 is when Broadway will reopen and they have not updated their statement yet, but all those dates seem very likely to be postponed until at least June 1st, 2020.

The largest theatre landlord in NYC, ‘The Shubert Organization' declined to comment on this story. The Broadway League declined to comment and continues to promote the March 12, 2020 story that states "Broadway Theatres To Suspend Performances Through April 12, 2020"