NEW YORK (WABC) -- Broadway shows in New York City have suspended all performances immediately due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday banned gatherings of 500 or more in the city, effectively forcing the hand of Broadway producers who had previously said that Broadway would be "open for business" unless advised not to by the government.
"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 theatre industry every day, including actors, musicians, stagehands, ushers, and many other dedicated professionals," said Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League. "Broadway has the power to inspire, enrich and entertain, and together we are committed to making that vital spirit a reality. Once our stages are lit again, we will welcome fans back with open arms so that they can continue to experience the joy, heart, and goodwill that our shows so passionately express every night."
Broadway hopes to resume on April 13.
Those holding tickets for performances through April 12, 2020 should contact their point of purchase for refunds and exchanges.
The Broadway League says it will continue to closely monitor the evolving coronavirus situation on behalf of the Broadway community and make decisions as circumstances require, in accordance with guidelines from the CDC and state and local health officials.
Shows will resume the week of April 13, only 10 days before the official cut-off for eligibility for the Tony Awards. Cuomo said venues of under 500 can only be filled to half their capacity.
On Broadway, would-be theater attendees were turned away, some shaking their heads in disbelief. "I had been hoping to catch one but it's all canceled," said Quinn Heath, 24, who was visiting from Boston.
Closing all Broadway theaters for a month is unprecedented, said Laurence Maslon, an arts professor at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. "Nothing comes close to this amount of time ever."
The move comes a day after Broadway's two largest theater chains revealed that a part-time usher and security guard who worked at two theaters in recent days tested positive for COVID-19 and was under quarantine.
Actors' Equity Association, which represents more than 51,000 actors and stage managers nationwide, called the governor's decision "important" and urged lawmakers to come to the aid of workers in the arts.
"Today's decision means tremendous uncertainty for thousands who work in the arts, including the prospect of lost income, health insurance and retirement savings," the group said in a statement. "For every middle-class actor you see onstage, there are dozens of other workers behind the scenes and in an administrative capacity."
The pressure on Broadway to go dark steadily increased as other entertainment hubs shuttered, including Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Opera, the NBA, NHL, CinemaCon, Coachella and Major League Soccer.
For further information, please visit broadwayleague.com
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