‘It’s very disheartening.’ Theater owners struggle as rising COVID-19 cases cause uncertainty

The sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in New Jersey comes as live entertainment was beginning to bounce back. Now venues are watching the rise of the delta variant and wondering if it could impact business.

News 12 Staff

Jul 23, 2021, 12:04 AM

Updated 1,006 days ago

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The sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in New Jersey comes as live entertainment was beginning to bounce back. Now venues are watching the rise of the delta variant and wondering if it could impact business.
Many lives theaters in the Garden State have sat empty for the past 16 months. The owners were looking forward to reopening in the fall. But now many fear that this may not be possible.
“It’s very disheartening,” says New Jersey Theatre Alliance executive director John McEwen.
The New Jersey Theatre Alliance is an organization of nonprofit, professional theaters that produce their own plays and musicals. McEwen says that the rising cases of the virus are the latest obstacle faced by theater owners who are trying to welcome back their audiences.
“It’s that start and stopping of the planning that can be extremely frustrating,” McEwen says. “And it’s also the financial impact.”
The theaters were able to earn limited income during the pandemic. But the months ahead are the chance to finally put shows on the stage for a paying audience.
The theatre alliance has partnered with a doctor to advise theaters on safely reopening, and how that may look different in the coming weeks with the unpredictability of the virus.
“Whatever plan they have today, to know what that policy will likely need to change and shift as we learn more about these variants,” McEwen says.
The theatre alliance is putting links to the COVID safety protocols in place at its dozens of member theatres in New Jersey as early as next week. They will be regularly updated for audience members.


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