Reopen NY: Entertainment venues welcome audiences back

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York marks another major step forward today on the road to reopening: arts and entertainment venues are allowed to welcome back guests.

That does not include Broadway stages - but it does include other venues like the Shed at Hudson Yards.

Kelsey Lu will take the stage there this evening.

The new guidelines say indoor spaces can have up to 100 audience members. Outdoor venues can have 200.

If event organizers test people, those limits rise to 150 people indoors and 500 outdoors.

To mark this moment, none other than the New York King of Comedy Jerry Seinfeld surprised a crowd at Gotham Comedy Club.

"I love this club and I love performing in New York and I didn't want to get emotional but I'm really excited to help bring it back," Seinfeld said.

For many clubs like Stand Up NY, the past year has been a struggle performing shows outside and on the subway. But Friday was a big relief.

"Even though it's only 33% it still feels good," said Jon Borromeo of Stand Up NY. "We're getting some of our staff working again, we're getting some of our comics working again, and that feels good! So whatever steps we're taking it's in the right direction."

Broadway is not reopening yet because it would be impossible to turn a profit with the limits.

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Jim Dolan has more on the efforts that are underway to reopen Broadway and the Theater District in New York City.

However there is another pathway on the horizon when it comes to businesses reopening.

And that is the Excelsior Pass, which Governor Andrew Cuomo is touting as a free method for customers to show they've had a recent negative rapid or PCR test or it would show proof of vaccination.

It functions in much the same way as a mobile airline boarding pass.

Venues like Madison Square Garden have announced they will start using the pass in the coming weeks.

Some have expressed concern concerned about equality in access, saying that until everyone has access to the vaccine, passes such as this exclude part of the community.

But officials remain optimistic.

"This is one of the things that's really exciting to people, these different tools that are going to help them bring back audiences and when the time comes," said NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. "And I'm really looking forward to September in particular - bringing back larger audiences, because you'll be able to know exactly who's been vaccinated or who just got a test and tested negative."

At the Yankees home opener yesterday, fans didn't need the Excelsior Pass to get in - but they did have to show proof of either a negative COVID test or vaccination to get in.

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