Broadway will remain dark through the rest of the year, and it’s unclear when shows will be able to return to the stage.

This marks the fourth extension for Broadway, prolonging the shutdowns that began in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s the longest period of time that theaters have been closed.

The Broadway League announced Monday that theater owners will refund or exchange all tickets purchased for musicals and plays through Jan. 3. But there’s a chance that some shows might not return until even later.

For shows that will resume on the Great White Way, tickets for performances for next winter and spring are expected to go on sale in the coming weeks.

“The Broadway experience can be deeply personal but it is also, crucially, communal,” said Broadway League board chairman Thomas Schumacher. “The alchemy of 1,000 strangers bonding into a single audience fueling each performer on stage and behind the scenes will be possible again when Broadway theatres can safely host full houses. Every single member of our community is eager to get back to work sharing stories that inspire our audience through the transformative power of a shared live experience. The safety of our cast, crew, orchestra and audience is our highest priority and we look forward to returning to our stages only when it’s safe to do so. One thing is for sure, when we return we will be stronger and more needed than ever.”

When Broadway shut down on March 12, 31 musicals and plays were running, while eight new shows were in preview and another eight were preparing to debut in the spring. Already, three shows — Disney’s musical “Frozen,” Martin McDonagh’s play “Hangmen” and Edward Albee’s revival of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” with Laurie Metcalf — have announced they won’t return when Broadway reopens.

Other shows, such as Neil Simon’s revival of “Plaza Suite” starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, have delayed their openings until 2021.

The Broadway League said it continues to work with city and state officials to find the safest way to reopen, including screening and testing for audience members and employees, enhanced cleaning and sanitizing measures, and revamping backstage protocols. Broadway, as an industry, is particularly at risk because theaters are often small and tightly packed with patrons.

“Our membership is working closely with the theatrical unions and in concert with key experts and some of the greatest minds inside and outside of the industry to explore protocols for all aspects of reopening. We are focused on identifying and implementing necessary measures that will enable us to resume performances safely for Broadway audiences and employees,” said Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin. “We are determined to bring back the people who rely on this industry for their livelihood, and to welcome back all those who love this vital part of New York City, as soon as it is safe to do so. As so many of us in the Broadway community have been saying during this time — We’ll be back, and we have so many more stories to tell.”

https://variety.com/2020/legit/news/broadway-closed-2020-coronavirus-1234693111/