Dr. Fauci: Theaters could open in the fall to nearly full capacity, if people wear masks

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The vaccine rollout has been much slower than the Trump Administration promised, because they are willfully incompetent and left distribution up to the states with little to no support or guidance. I have hope that The Biden administration will be able to help turn that around with their plan to release all doses at once. In the meantime entire industries are struggling and some have all but shuttered, particularly restaurants, bars, movie theaters and performing arts. So many waiters, cooks, actors, musicians, writers and countless support staff have lost their jobs. In a virtual conference with the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, Dr. Fauci said the end may be in sight. He said that if we reach 70 to 85% of the population vaccinated by the fall, we could see live performances resume. There are a lot of other factors in play, but if this happens we could get almost full capacity audiences, provided everyone wears masks.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the United States, told performing arts professionals at a virtual conference on Saturday that he believed that theaters and other venues could reopen “some time in the fall of 2021,” depending on the vaccination rollout, and suggested that audiences might still be required to wear masks for some time.

At the conference, held by the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, Dr. Fauci sought to assure people in the industry that the end of their acute economic pain was in sight, while emphasizing that the timeline hinged on the country reaching an effective level of herd immunity, which he defined as vaccinating from 70 percent to 85 percent of the population.

“If everything goes right, this is will occur some time in the fall of 2021,” Dr. Fauci said, “so that by the time we get to the early to mid-fall, you can have people feeling safe performing onstage as well as people in the audience…”

Dr. Fauci said that if vaccine distribution succeeded, theaters with good ventilation and proper air filters might not need to place many restrictions for performances by the fall — except asking their audience members to wear masks, which he suggested could continue to be a norm for some time.

“I think you can then start getting back to almost full capacity of seating,” he said…

“We’ll be back in the theaters — performers will be performing, audiences will be enjoying it,” he said. “It will happen.”

[From The NY Times]

It will surely be much easier to get audiences in live performances to wear masks than in movie theaters. People pay a premium to attend those events, there are observers to enforce mask-wearing, and there’s usually no eating during the show. I live in a rural area and don’t often go to live shows. I used to go to the movies all the time though and miss it so much. It may be until next year that I’ll be comfortable going again, but I don’t know if the theater in my town will even be open by then. I don’t want to think too hard about it, but that’s a luxury I have as someone healthy whose job has survived. So many other people have paid with their lives, the lives of their friends and family and their livelihoods. I’ll end on a positive note: when we are on the other side of this it will be amazing. I plan on traveling, eating out and doing so many things I used to take for granted.

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20 Responses to “Dr. Fauci: Theaters could open in the fall to nearly full capacity, if people wear masks”

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  1. (TheOG) Jan90067 says:

    One of the things I miss most is going to live theater. I used to fly into NY 2-3 times a year, I’d meet up with my cousin who lives on the east coast; we’d have lined up some plays to see most of the evenings we were there. Sigh…the things we take for granted!

    I’m like you CB: I want to travel again, eat out, grab a glass of wine with friends… all the things we took for granted. And I can’t wait to be able to donate all my unused KN95 masks to my local hospital when “I” don’t need them anymore!

    • Eleonor says:

      I feel you.
      I miss live theater and cinemas too…recently I have met a guy online, after few months of chat (hello lockdown) we decided to meet.
      First of all: we didn’t know WHAT TO DO.
      We ended up walking and talking with our masks (he is a nurse and he is super serious about everything preventing covid), after a while we agreed we wanted to see each other again, and it’s full winter here, no way we can stay outside…he ended up saying “I would have loved to go to the cinema with you” :(

  2. Teresa says:

    I have been fully supportive of the masks, even wore them on an uncrowded hike yesterday (much to my chagrin we were one of the few) and it’s freaking infuriating how much better off we could be if people could just perform this act of decency. I will happily pay $200 to see a musical in a mask.

  3. Ellie says:

    If the vaccine is only 95% effective, does that mean we’re going to always be wearing masks from now on? Or are we assuming that with a vaccine that’s 95% effective, the virus will eventually die out?

    • candy says:

      I think the jury’s still out, but from what I’ve read, there isn’t conclusive evidence about whether people who’ve had the vaccine can still transmit the virus, so the vaccine is just one more mitigation strategy, rather than a cure all.

      • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

        I’m not a virologist nor ID doc, but it seems to me that until your antibodies vanquish the covid, it’s still been multiplying enough to cause an immune response, so wouldn’t we still be shedding virus, even if smaller amounts than unvaccinated?

        Any infectious disease doc/virologists want to take a stab (sure, okay, pun intended) at speculation?

        We just bought a lake home, and miss my brother and 84 year old mother & really want them to come and spend time there with us this summer, but I am so worried for them to travel.

      • LP says:

        Yeah, I keep hoping to hear that the vaccines prevent transmission of the virus, but it seems no one is totally sure yet? It seems like that would almost be more important than prevention in some ways!

    • Case says:

      There’s questions of if people who have been vaccinated can still transmit it. That said…I feel like if you’re vaccinated and it’s 95% effective, you really shouldn’t be catching COVID at all? I realize there’s a small margin to catch it, but personally I’ll feel pretty safe after me and my loved ones have been vaccinated, just as I feel confident after getting the flu shot that I shouldn’t come down with the flu. I don’t know — I definitely have a lot of questions about what mitigation strategies will be necessary once a large portion of the population is vaccinated, and if they’re still needed, why. That hasn’t been super clear to me. Happy to do whatever is necessary, but just…why?

    • FHMom says:

      I just hope that if it’s 95% effective and you end up in the unlucky 5%, that you get a mild case. I would feel lucky knowing that I would not end up in the hospital or morgue. That’s all I’m asking from this vaccine.

  4. Ariel says:

    I flew twice (one round trip) during all this.
    And i know the airlines and long suffering flight attendants are just trying to keep the peace and keep people happy and quiet- but why do they insist on serving snacks and drinks.
    its like – you MUST wear a mask- here are some pretzels and a bottle of water, take off you mask and enjoy.

    I site this in relation to theatres.
    I realize movie theatres make $$$ off overpriced concessions.
    But maybe, just from 2021 fall when stuff opens through the next spring, everybody could just- keep their masks on and not eat and drink (and noisily open candy boxes) during the movie?

    Would that be such a hardship?????

    • Ellie says:

      I flew once last month and caught Covid. It was a full plane, no temperature checks were taken prior to boarding and people were taking their masks off to eat and drink like idiots (though I kept my N95 on the whole flight, I still caught it). I called the airline to see when I could safely fly back and they just said it was all fine, they didn’t even ask when I started to show symptoms. The airlines just want $$$. I’m not getting on a plane again until I’m vaccinated.

      • Teresa says:

        Out of curiosity which airline was that? I’m a consultant and did fly a lot for work. I don’t respect a lot of the American based airline companies. I will only fly Delta or United if I have to because of the location. I can’t stand American Air, I don’t like any of the cheap ones, and United is if I can’t do Delta.

      • FHMom says:

        Poor you. I’ve flown twice out of necessity and didn t catch anything. The first time we flew Delta, even though it cost more money for the 3 of us because they were blocking the middle seat and they had those lights that supposedly disinfect the cabin. The second time we flew United to save money. Both trips included stop overs in Chicago and were full. I hadn’t heard of anybody catching Covid from flying.

      • Ellie says:

        It was Spirit Airlines. I tested negative before flying then got sick and tested positive after flying. I hadn’t gone out in public after flying since we had groceries delivered to the home and were social distancing. This thing is a monster :(

  5. fluffy_bunny says:

    Hamilton was supposed to come to my city this year. No clue when it actually will but I’ll wear a mask to see it. I get emails from the theater so I’m sure they’ll start sending out emails as soon as they book some shows.

  6. Bettyrose says:

    Fall?? We’re still doing this in fall? When when when does normalcy return? Said as someone who has fully quarantined since last March. I go into grocery stores periodically but that’s it for indoor spaces. I see no one in person but my partner and my mom (who I only see outdoors fully masked). A couple of friends early on but not since Newsom told us to reduce our bubbles. TG for my dogs.

    • Case says:

      I’m the same, Bettyrose. The most excitement I get is a trip to the drive-thru Starbucks. I see my mom, because she also works from home and doesn’t go anywhere. That’s it. It astonishes me how many people are still hanging out at home with their buddies, attending parties, etc.

      My understanding is that normalcy SHOULD start to return in the fall, as long as we can get ahold of our vaccine distribution and get most people who are eligible for the vaccine vaccinated by the end of the summer/early fall. But it’s so hard to say. I feel like even once people are vaccinated I’m going to be very cautiously reentering the world to see how much the spread decreases. It will be weird to get back to normal and feel safe.

    • BnLurkN4eva says:

      I feel you. I have been in my bubble since March and have shared space with no one since my family members lives in other states, or out of the country. My work brought us back on a rotation basis and so it’s in my office alone and walk to the car and home. Grocery store once every 2 weeks slipping and dodging through the isles avoiding anyone not wearing a mask even being so bold as to ask one gentleman standing too close behind me in the check out to step back to the clearly marked line where he’s supposed to stand. My heart raced as I asked because I didn’t know how he would response, but I was hopeful because he at least had a mask on, just hanging below his nose. He apologized and stepped back, thank goodness. I guess I could order the grocery, but it makes me feel guilty like I am putting someone else unnecessarily at risk when I am young and healthy. So, yeah. I feel ya. It was my hope that seeing the back of 2020 meant 2021 would not be another lost year, not all of it at least.

  7. Marie says:

    All this because people refuse to wear a mask if they go out in public.

  8. FHMom says:

    I miss theater and I miss movies. We live about 30 minutes from New York and cant wait to see live theater again. It will be a luxury purchase for sure, but I want to support Broadway. I think we will be wearing masks for a while, certainly through next fall.