Broadway theaters extend mask mandate to maintain 'track record of safety' amid COVID-19 surge

As COVID-19 cases fueled by the highly transmissible omicron variant continue to fluctuate, entertainment specials and events are once again getting canceled or postponed during the spring months.

Despite cases plummeting in late February, leading several major cities to lift their proof of vaccine policies, the total number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continues to rise, with the U.S. recording 80.6 million cases and 988,121 deaths as of April 15, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

In the past month alone, there have been 984,794 confirmed cases and 20,919 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged the public in late 2021 to cancel upcoming events due to the threat of omicron. 

"An event canceled is better than a life canceled," Tedros said. 

Here are entertainment events that have been canceled or postponed as a result of the virus.

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Award shows and events

The rise of the omicron variant also comes as Hollywood's awards season is set to begin. 

Grammy Awards

The Recording Academy announced on Jan. 5 that the 64th annual ceremony scheduled for Jan. 31 was indefinitely postponed. The music industry's biggest awards, where Jon Batiste and Justin Bieber are vying for top prizes, were set to take place at Crypto.com Arena (formerly Staples Center) in Los Angeles. 

Now, the Grammys have announced a new date and a new home. Set to take place April 3, the music awards show will be held in Las Vegas for the first time. It's the first time in decades the awards will take place in the late spring. 

The show will air at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

Clive Davis' Pre-Grammy Gala

Clive Davis' legendary Grammys party has been postponed to 2023 with promises to "resume the celebration next year."

"Due to the logistical obstacles caused by the ongoing pandemic, including the unavailability of an appropriate venue, we have decided to postpone the 2022 Pre-GRAMMY Gala," a statement from the Recording Academy read. "We will resume the celebration next year, when we will host an incredible evening in our unique and glittering way."

Sundance Film Festival

For the second year in a row, the Sundance Institute has canceled its in-person festival, which was set to run from Jan. 20-30 in Park City, Utah. The long-running festival was scheduled to be a hybrid event, but will now screen movies, Q&As and other programming entirely online. 

"While it is a deep loss to not have the in-person experience in Utah, we do not believe it is safe nor feasible to gather thousands of artists, audiences, employees, volunteers, and partners from around the world, for an 11-day festival while overwhelmed communities are already struggling to provide essential services," the Sundance Institute said in a statement Wednesday. 

This year's Sundance lineup includes new films starring Dakota Johnson, Julianne Moore and the late Michael K. Williams, as well as documentaries about Bill Cosby and Princess Diana. 

Spike Lee, winner of Adapted Screenplay for ''BlacKkKlansman,' and Barbra Streisand attend the 91st Annual Academy Awards Governors Ball at Hollywood and Highland on February 24, 2019 in Hollywood, California.

Academy Awards' Governors Awards

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has postponed its annual Governors Awards due to a rise in COVID-19 cases and the omicron variant. The event, one of the Academy's annual ceremonies leading up the Oscars, had been scheduled to take place Jan. 15 in Los Angeles. 

In a statement, the Academy said "made the difficult decision to change our plans" given the uncertainties around the variants. "We feel this is the best and safest decision for our honorees and guests. Rescheduled plans will come at a later date as we continue to prioritize the health and wellbeing of all those involved."

Samuel L. Jackson, Liv Ullmann and Elaine May have been tapped to receive honorary Oscars at this year's Governors Awards, while Danny Glover is set to get the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. Due to the lockdown, the 2021 Governors Awards were canceled entirely and the two Hersholt honorees, Tyler Perry and The Motion Picture and Television Fund, were presented were their awards during the April 25 Oscars show.

Producers Guild Awards

Due to omicron, the Producers Guild of America has postponed the 33rd Producers Guild Awards from Feb. 26 to March 19.

The Producers Guild Awards are considered one of the most reliable bellwethers for the Academy Awards. The guild uses a similar preferential balloting system as the film academy, and the PGA's top winner and the Oscars' best picture have matched in 22 out of the last 32 years, including "Nomadland" in 2021.

Critics Choice Awards

The Critics Choice Association has chosen March 13 as the new date for its annual Critics Choice Awards, following a postponement due to mounting public health concerns regarding COVID-19. 

“Following the science and tracking the course of the omicron variant, we believe that March 13 will be the right day to properly honor the finest achievements in film and television during the past year,” CCA CEO Joey Berlin said in a statement. “We could have proceeded with our original Jan. 9 date with limited attendance or switched to a virtual awards show like we did last year, but we decided to wait until we could safely gather in person and truly celebrate with the creative community, industry leaders and our CCA members all together in one beautiful setting for all the world to see.”

The CCA said the show is working with the Los Angeles County Public Health Department to ensure the proper COVID-19 protocols are in place to keep all attendees safe and comfortable.

Hosted by Taye Diggs and Nicole Byer, the 27th annual Critics Choice Awards will be presented at the Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, Calif., and airing live on CW and TBS (7 ET, delayed PT). Films such as "Belfast," "West Side Story," "Dune" and "The Power of the Dog" are nominees this year, while actor Halle Berry is the recipient of the women's advocacy SeeHer award.

More:'West Side Story,' 'Belfast,' 'Power of the Dog' lead Critics Choice Awards film nominations

AFI Awards

The American Film Institute Awards reception will now take place on March 11 at Los Angeles' Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

The reception was originally set for Jan. 7 but was postponed in December due to the surge in COVID-19 cases. The American Film Institute announced its honorees Dec. 8. "The honorees include 10 outstanding films and 10 outstanding TV programs deemed culturally and artistically representative of this year's most significant achievements in the art of moving image," AFI said in a statement on their website

The list of honorees in the film category includes "CODA," "Don't Look Up," "Dune" and "Nightmare Alley." On the television side, the list includes "Hacks," "Maid," "Mare of Easttown" and "Succession." 

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Palm Springs International Film Awards and Film Festival

The Palm Springs International Film Awards has been canceled by event organizers. The awards ceremony was expected to take place in person on Jan. 6, 2022, at the Convention Center in Palm Springs, California. 

Stars who were expected to attend the ceremony included directors Jane Campion and Kenneth Branagh, actors Kristen Stewart, Jennifer Hudson, Lady Gaga, Andrew Garfield, Jessica Chastain, Penélope Cruz and the casts of "King Richard" and "Belfast."

"We are taking this action due to the recent spike in COVID cases and out of an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of the honorees, patrons, and staff," said a statement from the Palm Springs International Film Festival. "The Palm Springs Film Awards are one of the largest events in the film world with 2,500 guests and more than 1,000 staff in the room."

The Palm Springs International Film Festival (slated for Jan. 7-17) has also been canceled, organizers announced in a statement. The in-person event will return in 2023.

Palm Springs typically holds a prime position on the festival circuit calendar, held in early January to precede the Oscar nominations voting deadline.

New York Film Critics Circle 

The New York Film Critics Circle has postponed its 2022 awards ceremony, originally scheduled for Jan. 10, according to Variety.

“Out of safety concerns for our award winners and our members, we’ve made the decision to postpone our dinner,” NYFCC chair Stephanie Zacharek told the outlet. “But rest assured, we’re going to find a way to celebrate the accomplishments of our winners in the coming months. Even in the midst of an uncertain time, we see this as a positive step forward.”


The beginning days of the COVID epidemic wreaked havoc on the 2020 film calendar, delaying movies for months and in some cases a whole year, and the omicron variant is again ruffling Hollywood's plans.

Tom Cruise kept masked up shooting "Mission: Impossible 7" in Venice, Italy.

'Mission: Impossible 7'

The Tom Cruise action sequel is shifting from a Sept. 30 release date to July 14, 2023, due to the ongoing pandemic. In addition, "Mission: Impossible 8" is also being delayed from July 7, 2023 to June 28, 2024.

That marks a two-year total delay for "MI:7," which was originally due in theaters in July 2021. Production on Cruise's seventh "Mission" was shut down multiple times due to positive COVID tests. In December 2020, Cruise made headlines when audio leaked from a severe, expletive-laden scolding he gave crew members on the movie set in Leavesden, England. Cruise saw two crew members standing too close to one another in front of a computer screen and screamed at them: "If I see you do it again you’re ... gone. And if anyone on this crew does it, that’s it."

Jared Leto stars as Dr. Michael Morbius, a scientist who becomes a living vampire, in the new superhero film "Morbius."


The Sony superhero film, starring Jared Leto as the Marvel comic-book character Michael Morbius (a scientist with a rare blood disorder turned into a vampire), has been pushed from a Jan. 28 bow to April 1.

"Morbius," which also features Matt Smith, Jared Harris and Tyrese Gibson, has now been delayed six times since its original July 10, 2020 release date.


Giorgio Armani cancels Milan show

The fashion designer announced Tuesday he was canceling his Giorgio Armani and Emporio Armani men’s fashion shows in Milan this month along with his Prive haute couture show in Paris because of the soaring coronavirus cases in Europe.

“As the designer has expressed on many occasions, the shows are crucial and irreplaceable occasions but the health and safety of both employees and the public must once again take priority,” the Armani statement said.

The decision makes Armani the first major designer to pull out of the Milan men’s previews for fall/winter 2022-23 scheduled for Jan. 14-18. In a statement, the fashion house said the decision was “made with great regret and following careful reflection in light of the worsening epidemiological situation.

TV shows 

Live tapings of shows that often film before a studio audience have postponed episodes amid the rise in COVID-19 cases. 

'The Late Late Show with James Corden'

James Corden announced on Instagram Jan. 6 that he tested positive for COVID-19, bringing his Primetime Emmy-winning talk show to a halt.

"I'm fully vaccinated, boosted and because of this am fortunate enough to say I am completely fine," the late-night host wrote. "The show will be off the air for the next few days. Stay safe everyone."

"The Late Late Show" plans to return on CBS Jan. 18.

'Late Night With Seth Meyers'

Seth Meyers announced on Twitter Jan. 4 he would be canceling his show for the rest of the week after testing positive for COVID-19.

"The bad news is, I tested positive for COVID (thanks, 2022!) the good news is, I feel fine (thanks vaccines and booster!)," Meyers tweeted. "We are canceling the rest of the shows this week, so tune in next Monday to see what cool location we will try and pass off as a studio!!!"


Justin Bieber

Pop star Justin Bieber's "Justice" World Tour postponed two shows in February following "positive COVID results in the Justice tour family."

His team announced Feb. 19 that the show scheduled for the next day in Las Vegas would be postponed to June 28. A day later, they also said the Feb. 22 show in Glendale, Arizona, would be pushed to June 30. Tickets purchased for the original show dates will be honored, or fans can get refunded from the point of purchase.

"Justin is of course hugely disappointed, but the health and safety of his crew and fans is always his number one priority," read a statement on the official @justicetour Instagram page. USA TODAY has reached out to Bieber's representatives for more information. 


Adele was forced to postpone her Las Vegas residency due to COVID-related production delays just a day before her first show was set to kick off.

"Weekends with Adele" was announced in November and set to kick off Jan. 21 at the Colosseum in Caesars Palace and run through April. The "Easy on Me" singer added she was "gutted" by the last-minute cancellation.

"I'm so sorry, but my show ain't ready," Adele said in a tearful video posted to Twitter on Jan. 20. "We’ve tried absolutely everything that we can to put it together in time and for it to be good enough for you, but we’ve been absolutely destroyed by delivery delays and COVID – half my crew are down with COVID, they still are – and it’s been impossible to finish the show."

In her video, Adele said her shows are currently being rescheduled and vowed to “get it to where it’s supposed to be.”


The iconic hip-hop group Fugees were supposed to reunite for their first world tour in 25 years, but announced they were canceling their performance on social media Jan. 21. 

“We anticipate and understand disappointment but our anniversary tour will not be able to happen. The continued Covid pandemic has made touring conditions difficult, and we want to make sure we keep our fans and ourselves healthy and safe. An idea sparked to honor and celebrate this 25th anniversary of ‘The Score’ but we see now it may not currently be our time for revisiting this past work," the group wrote on Instagram.

The statement continued: "We’re grateful for the special night we did get to share with some of you in New York, with that rare live moment. If opportunity, public safety, and scheduling allow, we hope to be able to revisit this again sometime soon. Thank you for all of your love and support throughout the years."

Billy Joel 

Billy Joel's long-running residency at New York City's Madison Square Garden is being pushed back again.

The 72-year-old musician announced Jan. 6 he will be postponing his show to August after reviving his concert series for the first time in 20 months in November. 

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"Nothing is more important to me than the safety and well-being of my band, crew, and the fans; so due to unfortunate COVID-related circumstances, we made the decision to reschedule," Joel said on Instagram. 

Ticketholders for the Jan. 14 concert will have access to a show scheduled for August 24. 

Dead & Company

Dead & Company is changing plans for their January shows in Riviera Cancun. 

The band announced the "Playing in the Sand" concerts scheduled for January 7-10 and January 13-16 would be canceled after band member John Mayer tested positive for COVID-19. Originally they planned to go on with the show without Mayer, but on Jan. 6 announced they would scrap the event entirely. 

"With each day it became increasingly clear that canceling is the correct thing to do for the fans and for our crew," the band wrote on Instagram. "See you soon, hug your loved ones, stay safe and be kind." 

New dates for "Playing in the Sand" have not yet been announced. 

New York City Ballet

Remaining performances of “The Nutcracker” ballet have been canceled due to positive tests for coronavirus, the New York City Ballet announced Dec. 28.

The famed ballet by George Balanchine, a staple of the winter performing arts season in New York, was scheduled to present performances through Jan. 2 at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater.

“While New York City Ballet had hoped to resume performances this evening, we have made the decision that continuing to perform at this time would not be in the best interest of the NYCB community, whose health and safety is our number one priority,” NYCB Executive Director Kathy Brown and Artistic Director Jonathan Stafford said in a statement. “We are extraordinarily proud of everyone who safely came together to present 30 beautiful performances of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker in recent weeks, and we are also very grateful to the thousands of people who attended.”

Vaccine restrictions had limited audience members to those old enough to be vaccinated or to younger children with a negative PCR test.

Ticketholders for canceled shows will be able to receive a full refund or make a tax-deductible, charitable donation to the ballet in the amount of the value of their tickets.

The ballet company has performed “The Nutcracker” every year but one since its 1954 premiere. Last year’s shows were canceled because of the pandemic.

Lauren Patten accepts the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical for "Jagged Little Pill."

Broadway shows

Broadway theaters extend mask mandate through end of May

Broadway theatergoers will have to keep their masks up through at least May 31, the Broadway League said on April 15.

The announcement comes as the United States deals with a fresh COVID-19 surge, with cases rising nationally and in most states after a two-month decline.

"Our intention is that by maintaining strict audience masking through at least the month of May, we will continue that track record of safety for all. And of course, we urge everyone to get vaccinated," said Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, in a statement.

One policy change is that Broadway theaters will soon leave vaccination checks up to theater owners. The Shubert Organization, which owns 17 theaters, said it will not require proof of vaccination from patrons starting May 1.

The Broadway League will announce future masking protocols in May. Broadway's mask and vaccination policy has been in place since July 30, 2021. All Broadway workers are required to be fully vaccinated.

Several shows on Broadway have had to cancel performances in the past few weeks, including "Plaza Suite" when both Matthew Broderick and his wife and co-star, Sarah Jessica Parker, contracted the virus. The musical "A Strange Loop" canceled its first preview performance, and Daniel Craig has been sidelined from his revival of "Macbeth."

'Girl From The North Country'

The Bob Dylan-inspired musical "Girl From The North Country" will play its final performance at the Belasco Theatre on Jan. 23, producers said Jan. 12. At the time of closing, it will have played 31 previews and 117 regular performances. The musical, featuring songs from Dylan's catalog, is written and directed by Conor McPherson. 

The production is in "advanced conversations with the Shubert Organization to open again in the spring," officials said.

"Working on Broadway with this show has been an incredible and beautiful experience," said producers Tristan Baker and Charlie Parsons in a news release.

"We are eternally grateful to our amazing cast and crew for their unwavering commitment, fortitude and professionalism to deliver the very best show each night," the producers added. "We are most appreciative to our fans and the Broadway community for welcoming us with open arms. We really believe in this show and are looking forward to seeing it in another Shubert house in the spring."

The show originally opened March 5, 2020, but was shut down with the rest of Broadway due to COVID-19 just a week later. It reopened on Broadway on Oct. 13 and will be considered for this season's Tony Awards.

'To Kill A Mockingbird'

Aaron Sorkin's adaptation of Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird" announced on Jan. 12 that it will play its final performance at the Shubert Theatre on Jan. 16.

According to its website, it plans to reopen at the Belasco Theatre on June 1. Emmy Award winner Greg Kinnear, who just made his debut in the show, will resume performances as Atticus Finch when the show reopens in June.

"It has been an extraordinary experience to watch every member of this company bring 'Mockingbird' back to life at the Shubert," said executive producer Orin Wolf in a news release. "While it is sad to go dark even for a short time, it is an honor to help this magnificent production continue its historic run in the Belasco Theatre, and I look forward to its bright future as we kick off in June."


BroadwayCon, the annual convention that brings stage stars and fans together, announced Jan. 6 that it was postponing its return until July. 

"Our community’s health and safety will always be our top priority, and right now, it would be unsafe to host BroadwayCon in February," organizers said.

The new dates are July 8-10 at the Manhattan Center and New Yorker Hotel. 

'Mrs. Doubtfire'

On Jan. 2, "Mrs. Doubtfire" producer Kevin McCollum announced the musical would take a hiatus from Jan. 10 to March 14, planning to resume performances on March 15 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.

McCollum said the show would have to close permanently if it didn't take "drastic, pro-active measures" due to challenges from the omicron variant of COVID-19."

He continued: "Out of concern for the potential long-term employment of everyone who works on Mrs. Doubtfire, and the extended run of the show, we have decided that following the January 9 performance, the production will close for nine weeks, returning on March 15." 

“Mrs. Doubtfire has been in development for six years. We are doing everything in our power to keep the virus from prematurely ending our run on Broadway. By taking this break we can afford to launch an extended run starting in March," McCollum said.

Rob McClure (Daniel Hillard as Euphegenia Doubtfire) in "Mrs. Doubtfire" on Broadway.

'Jagged Little Pill'

As Broadway struggles to keep curtains up, COVID woes are forcing longer shutdowns for some productions — and the permanent closure of "Jagged Little Pill."

"Jagged Little Pill" announced Dec. 20 that it would not be reopening following a closure that was set to end early last week. It was the second show to directly blame COVID for closing; the first was "Chicken & Biscuits" in November.


The musical "Waitress," which opened on Broadway in 2016, closed permanently after members of its company and crew tested positive for COVID-19, the show's official Twitter account announced Dec. 23. The musical was originally scheduled to run through Jan. 9.

"This is not how we wanted to finish our run but (we) are so grateful to every fan and theater-lover who visited the Diner these past few months," reads the tweet.

Sara Bareilles, who composed the musical and starred in a leg of its performances, tweeted that the closure was "a gut punch of the highest degree."

"Thank you for everything," she continued. "This cast. This company. This community. May we all be so lucky. Forever I love you."

'Thoughts of a Colored Man'

The play "Thoughts of a Colored Man," written by Keenan Scott II, has also ended its Broadway run early. 

Producers Brian Moreland, Ron Simons, Diana DiMenna, Kandi Buruss ("The Chi"), Sheryl Lee Ralph ("Moesha") and Samira Wiley ("The Handmaid's Tale") shared the news on Instagram: "We are heartbroken to announce that performances have ended for Thoughts of a Colored Man as of Wednesday, December 22." 

"We have tried our hardest to safely navigate the current, unfortunate health crisis, but ultimately we are unable to continue under the unfortunate conditions of Covid exposure in the city and country," read the caption, alongside a photo of the cast on stage. 

"While this is not the outcome we had hoped for, being part of this historic season on Broadway has been the greatest privilege of our lives," the producers said in a statement. "The theatre industry’s great return is about so much more than the success or failure of any single production. As a community, we remain undeterred, unflinching and unstoppable." 

Ticketholders to canceled performances will get a refund. 

'Jagged Little Pill' closes permanently amid onslaught of Broadway COVID cancellations

'Is There Still Sex In The City?'

Writer and star Candace Bushnell tested positive for COVID-19 Dec. 21 right before she headed onstage – and the producers have said the show, which premiered Dec. 7, cannot continue. A national tour remains in the works, plus an international one.

'The Rockettes'

The Rockettes announced Dec. 17 that the Radio City Christmas Spectacular would end early. 

"We regret that we are unable to continue the 'Christmas Spectacular' this season due to increasing challenges from the pandemic," a statement on the Rockettes' website read.  "We had hoped we could make it through the season and are honored to have hosted hundreds of thousands of fans at more than 100 shows over the last seven weeks. "We have loved bringing back this cherished tradition that helps usher in the holiday season in New York City and look forward to welcoming fans back to Radio City Music Hall in 2022."

For a full list of Broadway shows that are postponing performances amid the COVID surge, click here.

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Contributing: Bryan Alexander, Patrick Ryan, Melissa Ruggieri, Pamela Avila, Ryan W. Miller, Adrianna Rodriguez, Brian Truitt, Edward Segarra, John Bacon, Jorge L. Ortiz, Celina Tebor, USA TODAY; Ilana Keller, Asbury Park Press; Brian Blueskye, Ema Sasic, Palm Springs Desert Sun; Associated Press; Ilana Keller, Asbury Park Press; Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press