Dr. Anthony Fauci says it will likely take more than a year for people to feel comfortable returning to theaters without a mask.
"When we get a really good vaccine and almost everyone gets vaccinated," he said in an Instagram Live interview with Jennifer Garner on Wednesday, "you have some level of immunity in the general community to go to." Theater without a mask and feel good when you are not at risk. "
He said that it probably wouldn't be until mid to late 2021.
But that doesn't mean that he says when it would be safe to go to the theater without a mask. Dr. Fauci, the country's leading infectious disease expert, made it clear in a phone interview on Friday that he was referring to when people with their pre-coronavirus comfort level could go back to the theater. "Words like" safe "are calculated," he said. "I'm talking about the general trend of when we will feel normal again when we get a safe and effective vaccine."
Dr. Fauci said that while a vaccine could be available by the end of this year or early 2021, it would likely last well into next year before enough people were vaccinated to ensure broad protection.
But Dr. Fauci said that in green areas – those with very little community coverage – indoor theaters may return earlier if people wear masks. "As long as there is an infection in the community, you don't want crowded indoor spaces," he said Friday. "But in states, cities or counties in the green zone with low infection rates, I could imagine that theaters could be opened with a capacity of 25 percent as early as next year if people were to wear masks."
Experts said that Dr. Fauci's comments help raise expectations that the coronavirus will continue for some time. "We shouldn't see the vaccine as a silver bullet" Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University who previously served as a health commissioner in Baltimore, said Friday. "It will take months to vaccinate hundreds of millions of people, and the vaccine can be 75 percent effective at best."
Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said the first vaccines were "not magic solutions."
"So we probably need to continue masks and contact tracing," he said.
The Broadway League said in a statement Friday that it would continue to prioritize the health of staff and audiences in support of the theaters reopening. "We are working closely with medical experts and members of Governor Cuomo's recovery team to ensure that all proper health and safety protocols are in place when the time comes to reopen our theaters," it said.
The producers have announced that they will refund all tickets purchased for performances by January 3rd. Some Broadway theaters are hoping to reopen in March – the earliest scheduled opening night is currently for the Tracy Letts play "The Minutes," which is currently being discontinued on March 15th.
Two more shows, a revival of David Mamet's play "American Buffalo" and a new show about Michael Jackson, "MJ the Musical," are due to follow nearly a month later on April 14th and 15th. The much anticipated revival of "The Music" Man, "headed by Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster, which was originally scheduled for the fall, is now slated to open on May 20th.