The show musn’t go on.

Despite the precautions theater owners and producers had been taking to germ-proof theaters—extra cleanings, no backstage guests, curtailed stage door and autograph opportunities—the decision came down from Albany on Thursday: Broadway is going dark, effective 5 P.M.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he is banning large gatherings  to address the spread of the new coronavirus. The Metropolitan Museum, Carnegie Hall, and the Met Opera had already announced earlier in the day they’d be shutting their doors. Now, it’s mandatory that any building close with 500 or more occupancy; building with less need to reduce occupancy rates by half. Cuomo said they’ll watch the hospitalization rate and adjust numbers as needed.

The closure of the Great White Way, a $1.8 billion annual industry last year, was deemed unavoidable following earlier precautionary steps including sanitizing Broadway houses. Performances will be suspended through April 12, according to the Broadway League.

“The loss of revenue here to the state government right now is incalculable. You have no idea,” Cuomo said. “It’s not just Broadway theaters. It’s hotel cancellations … that stock market drop alone, what that means to the state’s revenues, you cannot calculate.”

On Wednesday, an usher who worked part-time at Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Six became the first reported Broadway case of Covid-19 infection. The usher, who was not identified, worked at performances at the Booth Theatre, where the revival of the Edward Albee marital drama starring Laurie Metcalf is in previews, from March 3 to March 7. Prior to that she managed lines outside the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, where the new musical about the wives of Henry VIII was set to open Thursday, March 12.

Before Cuomo’s announcement, Kevin McCollum, the producer of Six, said that plans were unchanged for the show’s official opening. He noted that in addition to outside the theater, where the usher worked, the inside was “sanitized in accordance with the CDC” due to an “abundance of caution.”

At the Longacre Theatre, where Diana, a musical about “the People’s Princess,” was in previews for a March 31 opening, they “doubled or tripled the cleaning crew,” said director Christopher Ashley said before rehearsal on March 11. “There’s Purell everywhere.”

Business had been steady at many Broadway box offices, even though attendance at Disney’s three family-friendly musicals, The Lion King, Frozen, and Aladdin, dropped significantly, according to figures for the week that ended on March 8. But theater executives were bracing for the impact of Covid-19 on New York City tourism, the major source of revenue for the Great White Way.

“Between 60%-70% of business comes from outside the tri-state,” says Charlotte St. Martin, president of the trade group the Broadway League, referring to New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey.

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