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Broadway Usher Tests Positive for Coronavirus


A part-time usher who recently worked at two Broadway theaters has tested positive for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, prompting a scramble to inform the public and clean the buildings, according to the theater owners.

The usher worked March 3 to March 7 at performances of a new revival of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” now in previews at the 766-seat Booth Theater, starring Laurie Metcalf and Rupert Everett. Before that, the usher also helped manage lines at two performances of “Six,” a new British musical about the wives of Henry VIII, on the evening of Feb. 25 and the matinee of March 1. That show is now in previews at the 1,031-seat Brooks Atkinson Theater.

The usher is now quarantined, and the person’s medical condition is not clear. Nor was it clear when the usher began showing symptoms, which can arise between 2 and 14 days of infection.

Both shows are expected to perform as scheduled on Wednesday night, but uneasy patrons can exchange their tickets. “Any ticketholder that prefers to attend a future performance of ‘Virginia Woolf’ or ‘Six’ will be provided the opportunity for an exchange at the point of purchase,” the theater owners said in a joint statement.

The Shubert Organization, which operates the Booth, on Wednesday subjected that building to “a deep cleaning, following all current government standards,” according to the statement. The Brooks Atkinson, operated by the Nederlander Organization, will have a deep cleaning Wednesday night, in anticipation of the official opening of “Six” on Thursday night.

“Immediately upon learning of the positive test, both organizations began taking every step necessary to ensure the safety of our audiences, performers, crew, and building staff,” the owners said. They said that employees of the theaters and shows were advised to monitor their health and stay home if they felt ill, and that they were urging any “high-risk audience members” who attended the shows to do the same.

The diagnosis comes as Broadway is endeavoring to keep its shows running during a widening public health crisis. There are currently 31 plays and musicals open, and the industry has taken a variety of steps, including recommending an end to interactions between fans and performers at stage doors, in an effort to reduce the risk of disease transmission.

Governments in several European countries have taken steps that have forced the closings of local theaters, and on Wednesday Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington banned gatherings of more than 250 people in the Seattle area, affecting its prestigious nonprofits, Seattle Rep and the 5th Avenue Theater.

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