COVID vaccines, testing coming to Broadway in reopening effort, Open Streets permanent

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TIMES SQUARE, Manhattan (WABC) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a several weeks-long effort to try to bring back the theater industry on Broadway.

"It's time to raise the curtain and bring Broadway back," de Blasio said.

There will be a dedicated COVID-19 vaccination site on Broadway for members of the theater industry.

There will also be a mobile vaccination unit for off-Broadway workers.
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Mayor Bill de Blasio announced vaccine and testing locations for Broadway workers.

The city is placing pop-up COVID testing sites by Broadway theaters, and they are developing plans to manage crowds before and after shows.

Tony Award-winning actor Andre DeShields, joined the mayor for the announcement and said, "Broadway is the cultural spine of this city."

He says the closing of Broadway left an emptiness in him, and in his audience that cannot be filled.

"What I miss most is the immediacy with the audience," DeShields said.

"Today's announcement is an important recognition from the City of New York that a strong theatre industry means a healthy, strong economy," said Mary McColl, executive director of Actors' Equity Association. "Mayor de Blasio clearly understands that we cannot socially distance in our work, making the availability of vaccines and testing critical for maintaining a safe workplace. We have been having conversations with the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment about safety on a regular basis throughout the pandemic. It is clear that we were heard and the city is pushing forward-looking policy changes that will serve the entire theatrical community. We are grateful for the leadership of Mayor de Blasio."

Shows were canceled through May 31. However, a reopening date has not yet been set.

Earlier this month, the theater community reunited in Times Square to perform a pop-up experience called "We Will Be Back" to commemorate one year to the day since the Broadway shutdown.

It's not all about the art. Broadway brings in around $15 billion dollars a year.

Also Thursday morning, Mayor de Blasio announced that the city's Open Streets initiative would be a permanent part of the city and that applications were open again.

RELATED | 'A Moment for Broadway': Stars turn out for pop-up event amid COVID pandemic shutdown
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Lauren Glassberg has more on a long-awaited reunion for the Broadway community during a pop-up event in Times Square on Wednesday.

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