Broadway and US theatres may not open until autumn, according to Biden's incoming Chief Medical Advisor
Posted on 12 January 2021
Anthony Fauci, who has served as a lead member of the White House's Coronavirus Task Force and who is set to be sworn in as Chief Medical Advisor to the President under the new Biden administration during the upcoming inauguration in Washington DC, has given an estimated timeline on when live shows and concerts in the USA can resume as normal.
Times Square, New York City. Photo: © chensiyuan / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)
Fauci: US theatres can open in autumn depending on the vaccination roll-out
At a special conference over the weekend held by the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Antony Stephen Fauci, stated that US and Broadway theatres and other live performance venues should be able to re-open in the US by autumn, contingent on a variety of factors of course.
It really depends on whether Joe Biden successfully implements a nationwide vaccination roll-out plan. With his first days in office likely to coincide with the Senate holding a second impeachment trial of Donald J Trump, who incited insurrection at the US Capitol last week, it could present a big challenge for his presidency and the fate of Broadway.
Herd immunity is key
The immunology expert said that the US would need to vaccinate a least 85 per cent of the population in order to achieve effective herd immunity, which he expects to happen by autumn at the earliest. Though with many QAnon followers believing unfounded conspiracies about the pandemic and the vaccine, it's unsure if 85% of the population will be willing to get vaccinated, despite it being tested and certified as safe.
Fauci said that by autumn "you can have people feeling safe performing onstage as well as people in the audience." Venues with strong air filtration systems may not have any social distancing measures in place if the 85% vaccination level is achieved, though audience members may still be required to wear masks as a new normal to help lead to "almost full capacity" seating.
The UK Government's vaccination goals ahead of West End re-opening
The UK Government has stated it hopes to administer the vaccine to all adults by September, with those at the highest risk infection being vaccinated right now. The goal is to have 13 million people vaccinated by mid-February. Easing up restrictions to allow West End and UK theatres to operate without social distancing will then depend on how quickly the remainder of the population is vaccinated. Shows are still planned to re-open this spring, though with some social distancing measures or reduced-capacity seating in place.