Broadway theaters in New York will abolish coronavirus mask orders for members of the public from July 1, the Broadway League industrial trading group announced on Tuesday.
“Owners and operators of all 41 Broadway theaters in New York will retain coverage orders in all Broadway theaters until June 30 and adopt a policy ‘optional mask’ for July,” the statement said. “Audience members are still encouraged to wear masks in theaters.”
The Broadway League said it would review the cover-up protocols on a monthly basis and announce its policy for August in mid-July.
“This is not an easy decision – there are more people who want the masks to be worn, but many still want them – and we encourage people who have any concerns to wear their masks,” said Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, according to the New York Times.
The demand is easing as several Broadway stars tested positive for COVID this month.
Beanie Feldstein, the star of “Funny Girl” on Broadway, announced that she was infected by COVID in an Instagram post on June 7. Feldstein was replaced by Julie Benko during her recovery. according to a tweet posted on the show’s account.
Hugh Jackman, the protagonist of “The Music Man”, announced that he tested positive for the virus on June 13, less than a day after appearing at the Tony Awards. Jackman said Max Clayton would complement him.
The loose mask order on Broadway theaters was announced the same day New York downgraded COVID-19 alert level from high to medium, citing reduced cases and hospitalizations. COVID-19 cases per 100,000 in the city were now 240.4 and hospitalizations per 100,000 were reduced to 9.8, Mayor Eric Adams and Health Commissioner Aswin Wassan said in a joint statement.
“We are grateful to the New Yorkers for their constant attention and vigilance as we reached the other side of this wave,” the two officials said.
The mid-level alert for COVID includes recommendations for vaccinations and reinforcement, as well as for mask use in public indoor areas where other people have been vaccinated. Under the previous high alarm level, New Yorkers were asked to wear a mask indoors regardless of their vaccination status.
Adams and Wassan said health officials learned a lot about the virus during this year’s outbreak and stressed the importance of existing public health safety measures, including masks.
“Testing, vaccinations, treatments and coverage were vital tools to keep people alive and out of the hospital,” they said. “But we know there is no greater defense against this virus than vaccination, so we are delighted that young children are now eligible for the protection they deserve and look forward to starting vaccination before the age of five.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended vaccinations against COVID in children under 5 on Saturday. The first vaccinations for this age group in New York are going to start on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, the mayor of New York withdrew requirements for a mask for children under 5 “in all early childhood environments.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.