NEW YORK (Reuters) – Broadway theaters, among New York’s biggest tourist attractions, were shut down for a month on Thursday in a bid to limit the spread of the coronavirus in the city.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a ban on all gatherings of more than 500 people, including theaters, starting on Thursday evening. Most Broadway theaters have around 1,000 seats.
The Broadway League said in a statement that shows would be suspended until April 13. They include crowd-pleasers like “Hamilton,” “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
The decision was part of a range of extraordinary measures in the nation’s biggest city. Some 328 people in New York are confirmed to have the disease, Cuomo said.
The spreading virus has already led to cancellation or postponement of dozens of U.S. entertainment industry events, including the Coachella and South by Southwest festivals, CinemaCon, the E3 videogames convention and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Broadway was spooked on Wednesday when an usher who had worked at two New York theaters tested positive for coronavirus. Owners of the two venues said they had ordered deep cleanings and their shows went ahead on Wednesday.
Television talk shows “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” said they would tape their broadcasts in New York venues without audiences going forward.
Several Broadway plays and musicals had previously put a halt to cast members greeting fans and signing programs at stage doors.
Some 14.8 million tickets were sold for Broadway shows in the 2018-2019 season that ended in May, bringing $1.8 billion in box office receipts, according to the Broadway League. Some 63% of those going to shows were tourists, from outside the United States or outside New York.
“Our top priority has been and will continue to be the health and well-being of Broadway theatregoers and the thousands of people who work in the theater industry every day, including actors, musicians, stagehands, ushers, and many other dedicated professionals,” Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, said in a statement on Friday.
Additional reporting by Alicia Powell and Jonathan Allen; editing by Diane Craft and Rosalba O’Brien