New York Governor Plans to Bring Back Live Events by February
When will live arts events return to the schedule? If all goes according to plan, New York governor Andrew Cuomo is expecting a return as soon as next month in his state, citing his intent to ramp up the current vaccination plan with more rapid testing sites.
Giving his State of the State Address, Cuomo stated that New York will seek to institute a rapid COVID-19 testing network that will help businesses reopen with reduced capacity restrictions. He cited this past weekend's Buffalo Bills playoff game as an example of how live events can return with people able to be there in person. The Bills took the field for the first time this season with fans in the stands on a limited basis and Cuomo called the move "an inarguable success." He now wants to apply the same strategies to concert and theater events.
“Testing is the key to reopening our economy before the vaccine hits critical mass,” Gov. Cuomo said, as reported by Rochester First. “Rapid testing poses great possibilities, as it can be completed in as little as 15 minutes. We will be entering a time where more people are vaccinated, and this will allow us to reopen more businesses safely. We piloted our strategy at last week’s Bills game, where testing was done in a drive-thru, at approximately five minutes per car. The New York State Department of Health is monitoring the contact tracing results, but all early indications suggest this model was successful.”
He continued, “Why can’t we use rapid testing to open restaurants in orange zones? Without activities and attractions, cities lose their appeal. New York City is not New York City without Broadway. We will open hundreds of these new pop-up rapid testing sites statewide to bring this effort to scale."
The Governor shared his concern for the return of the entertainment industry sooner than later. “We must act,” he stated. “We cannot wait until summer to turn the lights back on for the arts. We will not let the curtain fall on their careers or our cities. New York state is launching New York Arts Revival; a public-private partnership to bring the arts back. We will organize a series of pop-up arts events to bring the arts back. We will use flexible venues, adapt with social distancing. All events will follow state guidelines, serving as a model for safely reopening arts venues across the country.”
The New York Arts Revival will launch a series of pop-up performances featuring well known musicians and comedians to hopefully reignite the arts and entertainment industry in the state with Feb. 4 being the target date to start the series.
Earlier this week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease expert in the U.S., told a conference of entertainment industry professionals that he believes theaters and venues could reopen "some time in the fall of 2021" depending on the vaccination rollout. He explained that the timeline hinged on the country reaching an effective level of herd immunity (that he defined as 70 to 85 percent of the population receiving the vaccine).
“If everything goes right, this is 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.” Fauci discussed the possibility that there could be a return to near full capacity seating for theaters with good ventilation and proper air filters though audience members would still be likely asked to wear a mask.
Fauci also cited that venues may also require that audience members provide a negative test in order to enter venues. “We’ll be back in the theaters — performers will be performing, audiences will be enjoying it,” he said. “It will happen.”