Vaccination and mask requirements vary by location. It’s a strange pandemic summer for the performing arts.
With vaccinations prevented and its outdoor setting, the Little Island Amphitheater in Manhattan isn’t restricting its audience’s capacity.
During its previous performances in June, the New York Classical Theater was allowed to perform “King Lear” only to a maximum of 75 members of the open-air audience. Those customers were socially estranged on picnic blankets, wore masks, and were unable to eat or drink during the play.
That same month, Foo Fighters held a full-capacity show inside Madison Square Garden for 15,000 vaccinated fans. Few covered their faces; none were obliged to do so.
As New York and the rest of the country begin the slow journey back to something that resembles pre-pandemic life, rapidly changing protocols in the state and across the country have created markedly different environments in theaters, music venues. and sports arenas as venue operators seek to balance persistence. concerns about the coronavirus with their business plans and their customers’ desire for normalcy.
Different approaches in places perhaps miles apart have resulted in what some arts officials say has been head-spinning confusion and a whiplash sensation.
“There is frustration,” said Stephen Burdman, artistic director of the NY Classical Theater. “Things have not been communicated well.”
In mid-June, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo lifted most of the state’s Covid-19 restrictions after 70 percent of New York adults had received at least one dose of the vaccine, essentially clearing the way. for most spaces to do what they wanted: at least as far as state is concerned. The state does not require a location to verify a person’s immunization status; and in all but the largest enclosed venues, the policy of masking and social distancing is now left to the discretion of the people who run the performances.
Many places have sought to create an environment with as few reminders of the pandemic as possible. When Bruce Springsteen ushered in a Broadway comeback last month, he played to a St. James Theater packed with 1,721 vaccinated and lightly masked fans. At the outdoor amphitheater on Little Island, more than 600 people have stacked on curved wooden benches, some of them wearing masks.