New Jersey theaters put COVID-19 safety protocols in place as Omicron surges
A surge of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is taking its toll on live theater in New Jersey, impacting audience members who were hoping to enjoy a show, as well as the livelihoods of those who work in the industry.
“It’s really been a setback,” says John McEwen, executive director of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, an organization of 40 nonprofit theater companies.
Last year the alliance launched Opening Night, Opening Right – an information campaign to assure audience members know the steps taken to protect their health. Theaters had hoped that seats would fill up with those who are eager to see live plays and musicals again, after more than 18 months shut down.
“Our theaters have all budgeted for ticket sales relatively conservatively this year. But of course, they’re still not making even those conservative projections, even though the people who have attended are enthusiastic,” says McEwen.
McEwen says he believes that this enthusiasm will propel a comeback. But he acknowledges theatergoers will need time to get comfortable being in the seats again.
While remaining open, a number of New Jersey theatres have postponed entire productions scheduled to start in January, with plans instead to put on shows again in February or March. Others are moving ahead as planned - safety protocols in place - ready to welcome the audience once again.
More information about the safety protocols can be found on the New Jersey Theatre Alliance website.