Cuomo, Broadway League at odds over audience vaccine mandates

At his big Broadway re-opening announcement this week, Governor Andrew Cuomo did not mince words.

"Are you willing to go into an indoor theatre and sit there for two hours next to a person who you don’t know if they’re vaccinated or unvaccinated?" Cuomo asked rhetorically. "I don’t know that New Yorkers are going to do that."

And he went on.

"I will tell you today," he said, "the simplest formula [is] 100 percent vaccinated.  One-hundred percent vaccinated. You want to come to a theatre? One hundred percent vaccinated."

Except even he pointed out the reality: the state— thus, the governor—does not have the power to mandate what a private theatre decides to do in that regard.

His position is also at odds with what Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin has been saying.

"There are absolutely no discussions being held about mandating vaccines for audience members," St. Martin told FOX 5 NY as recently as Thursday afternoon.

There are, however, active discussions being had with various unions that represent Broadway workers regarding whether employees must be vaccinated—a very real possibility. However the issue of a similar mandate for the audience is complex, St. Martin said.

Logistically speaking, St. Martin said, "how do you prove that somebody is vaccinated?"

Get breaking news alerts in the FOX5NY News app. Download for FREE!

The fact of the matter is, she says, 65-70 percent of Broadway audiences are usually made up of patrons from outside the tri-state area.

"There is no universal… app or system that proves someone has had that vaccine," St. Martin said.

Sure, officials checking phones or vaccination cards might be able to certify someone’s status if they’re from nearby, she says, what if someone’s from out of the country?

"How do you know what you’re looking at is real?"

Sign up for FOX 5 email newsletters

It’s been floated that fewer seats might end up being sold if shows could only sell to vaccinated individuals.

"That’s not something that I would say is the number one concern."

As for her response was to the governor expressing skepticism that New Yorkers would be willing to purchase seats if they didn’t know the vaccine status of the person next to them, St. Martin says Cuomo "has every right to to his opinion."

"But I’d like for him to look at my inbox at the number of people who are telling me they’re ready to come back to theatre no matter what we do."