Partner Ethan Krasnoo Discusses Vaccine Mandates for Theater Professionals and Audiences Amid Broadway Reopening

Broadway curtains are gearing up to rise again this fall after a year of lockdown, but the highly contagious Delta variant and breakthrough cases in vaccinated individuals present serious considerations for determining the safest ways to get company members and audiences back in the theater. Partner Ethan Krasnoo weighed in on vaccine mandates for staff and audiences in Broadway World in their article entitled, “Bringing Back Broadway, Part 1 – Waking the City That Never Sleeps.”

Some productions, such as Hamilton, are requiring all actors and other theater employees to be vaccinated and Ethan notes that, “Given the nature of the work being performed and risks associated with actors’ activities on stage (e.g., dancing, singing, potentially kissing, and their close proximity), barring union pushbacks, I expect this to set the standard for most other Broadway shows, and that is acceptable as long as the employers avoid violating discrimination laws.”

Yet exemptions from the vaccine mandate due to “disability” or “a sincerely held religious belief,” which remain ambiguously defined, could put producers at risk for discrimination or endangerment lawsuits. For the theater, however, Ethan added that there is unlikely to be a reasonable accommodation given the demands of staging a production. “Even if there is a reasonable accommodation available it can’t cause undue hardship.”

Some venues like the St. James Theatre recently began requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 antigen or PCR test, taken within a certain time frame before a performance, as an exception for audience members with a disability and/or sincerely held religious belief. “If you allow individuals to provide proof that they’ve tested negative in the last 72 or 24 hours, somebody with a disability or sincerely held religious belief can still attend without the vaccine,” Ethan explained. “So, it gives more options for complying with the [Americans with Disabilities Act] and building in the accommodations, in my view.”

To learn more, read the full article on Broadway World here.