Broadway halted shows for a month Thursday as the world’s most popular theater district was struck by a ban imposed on New Yorkers on large public gatherings to curb the latest coronavirus outbreak.
Broadway had been one of the few entertainment establishments left standing in New York’s now-stalling cultural engine, where many top concert halls shut down along with the prestigious Metropolitan Art Museum.
Performances closed after 5:00 pm (2100 GMT) Thursday and will not resume again until 13 April, the Broadway League, a trade organization, reported.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters earlier that only schools, hospitals, nursing homes and mass transit facilities will be permitted to gather more than 500 people from Friday because of the pandemic that has infected more than 1,300 people in the United States so far.
New York seating capacity is to be decreased by 50 percent, even though the occupancy is usually 500 or less.
Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency in the city, predicting that by next week it could have 1,000 cases of COVID-19, a major increase from the current count of 95.
New York has postponed its forthcoming Tribeca Film Festival as well as the annual St Patrick’s Day Parade, the biggest drawing two million spectators in the World.
The closing of Broadway is a big blow to a source of tourist revenue that took in more than $26.7 million just last week.
“Our top priority has been and will continue to be the health and well-being of Broadway theater goers and the thousands of people who work in the theater industry every day, including actors, musicians, stage hands, ushers, and many other dedicated professionals,” Charlotte St Martin, president of the Broadway League, said in a statement.
The suspension would be much longer than a historic delay in 2007, when curtains fell for 19 days after a stage hand attack.
Jessica Hughes, a Minnesota tourist, considered the push “a little intense.”
“I hope all of the staff and cast and crew are all paid during this time that they’re forced to be off,” the 40-year-old told AFP.