Chris Krasovich, who’s turning 50 on Dec. 27, planned to visit New York City, her “favorite American city,” to celebrate. While in from Wisconsin, she planned to see one or two musical theater shows per day.
“The shows are why I visit,” she said, noting the trip would be all about Broadway. “But seeing news that ‘Moulin Rouge,’ ‘Jagged Little Pill,’ and ‘Hamilton’ are all dark because of COVID, I just don’t feel like I can risk making the trip.”
She continued that she is “truly heartbroken” but can’t wrap her head around the idea of going to New York without access to Broadway shows. “What a mess we are all in.”
Josh Felser, from Marin County, California, canceled a trip, too. “Most of my friends either have COVID or are quarantining because their partners have COVID and so (they) aren’t available,” Felser told USA TODAY, noting some restaurants are beginning to close with staff becoming ill.
“Basically all the reasons for traveling to (New York) with my partner and daughter are kaput,” Felser continued. “I can’t wait until America is boosted.”
Many who planned to visit are scrapping plans as a wave of COVID responsible for the cancellation of a slew of in-person performances including four Friday showings of Radio City Music Hall’s “Christmas Spectacular” continues to sweep the city.
New York state reported Friday that just over 21,000 people had tested positive for COVID-19 the previous day, the highest single-day total for new cases since testing became widely available. Just under half of the positive results were in the city.
One-day snapshots of virus statistics can be an unreliable way to measure trends, but the new record punctuated a steady increase that started in the western part of the state in late October and has taken off in New York City in the past week as the omicron variant spreads.
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Broadway, Radio City, Alvin Ailey cancel performances
Multiple Broadway shows, including “Hamilton,” “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” called off performances in recent days because of virus cases in their all-vaccinated casts and crews. California and New York brought back indoor mask mandates.
The Radio City Rockettes on Friday canceled its remaining shows this season due to “increasing challenges from the pandemic.”
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater also canceled its performances Thursday through Sunday.
Like Krasovich, Becky Lease, 28 from Baltimore, planned to visit New York City for her birthday, which is Monday, with her best friend. But COVID put a pin in her plans, at least for now.
“We were going to see ‘Six, Hadestown,’ ‘Jagged Little Pill,’ and ‘Moulin Rouge,'” Lease told USA TODAY. “JLP and Moulin Rouge, as of last night, had closed from COVID. We didn’t want to pay for the hotel and all, get there, and the other two canceled.”
Lease and her friend postponed until January. She is disappointed about postponing but said she’s “smooth they’re doing what’s right to keep people safe.” The hardest part, she said, is getting Ticketmaster to refund her for a shows that hasn’t been canceled yet.
While some shows have been canceled, many remain on schedule.
“Broadway is open for business,” the Broadway League said in a release Friday, noting that some shows may cancel or suspend performances “out of an abundance of caution.” The League added that Broadway’s COVID protocols are the “gold standard” and that 2.3 million people have attended shows since its reopening.
To assist show-goers with up-to-date info on performance schedules (including cancellations), the Broadway League has created a website, BwayToday.com.
Some travelers think it’s still worth visiting New York City amid omicron
Susan Wilcox posted on Twitter on Friday about a visit to the city this week before heading home to Cleveland on Saturday.
While Wilcox faced a couple of canceled shows including “Moulin Rouge,” Wilcox was able to see The Radio City Rockettes perform Thursday before their shows were canceled Friday.
“Still love this City,” Wilcox wrote.
And Dan Kline, 66, who is visiting from Michigan, told USA TODAY that he and his wife are enjoying their visit to the city. They hit the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Central Park on Friday with plans through the weekend, including a couple shows. City protocol and his vaccination status – he’s had his booster – are making him feel better.
“What’s impressed me about New York, is (that) it does a great job of requiring proof of vaccination and masking,” he said, noting that omicron is also present in Michigan. He doesn’t think it matters too much where you go.
“If something gets canceled we’re flexible, we’ll do something else,” Kline said.
Others are still weighing the choice.
Kelley Cash, from Dallas, is planning to fly to New York on Dec. 23.
“I feel some trepidation about it, but I’m ultimately deciding – at least right now – that the risks outweigh the benefits,” she told USA TODAY, noting that she’s fully vaccinated as are the family members she plans to visit. New York’s COVID protocol, she said, is also comforting.
“I spent Christmas at home alone last year because of COVID, and it was, frankly, very sad and depressing,” Cash added.
More cancellations to come?
The omicron-related cancellations have seemingly just begun.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that the city would “watch very carefully” whether to press ahead with plans to welcome a fully vaccinated crowd back to Times Square on New Year’s Eve, a celebration that was canceled last year. It’s a go for now, the mayor said.
Chris Heywood, executive vice president of global communications at NYC & Company, said that safety is “first and foremost” but that the city’s appeal hasn’t changed.
“We are confident that the show will go on,” Heywood said.
Contributing: The Associated Press