Of all the industries affected by the COVID-19 shutdowns, the “sit in close quarters in a dark room, breathing, while strangers breathe on you very loudly” business—or “theaters,” as they’re more typically known—has probably taken it harder than most. Now the business of show has gotten ever more dire-er news today, with professional soothsayer Dr. Anthony Fauci asserting that, even after a vaccine is found for the disease, it’s still going to be a long goddamn time before theaters get back to anything resembling normality.
This is per Deadline, which reports on a conversation Fauci recently had with actress Jennifer Garner over Instagram Live, discussing all sorts of aspects of the virus response—including Fauci’s belief that most non-medical professionals won’t receive a vaccine until at least the middle of 2021, at the earliest. That presumably includes theater workers and theater-goers alike, which helps explain why he also asserts that things won’t be getting back to normal for the business (including people being able to attend without masks) until the vaccine has been around (and reliable) for at least a year. (Also, it’s not 100 percent clear if Fauci and Garner are talking about live theater—Garner mentions seeing performers up on “the stage”—or just theaters in general, but we have to imagine the guidelines will be pretty similar regardless, given the shared “cram a bunch of people into a tight, enclosed space” principles at work.)
“I think it’s going to be a combination of a vaccine that has been around for almost a year and good public-health measures,” Fauci said, later adding, “If we have a vaccine that’s a knockout vaccine that’s 85% to 90% effective—I don’t think we’ll get that, I’ll settle for 70% effective—[but] if we get a really good vaccine and just about everybody gets vaccinated, you’ll have a degree of immunity in the general community that I think you can walk into a theater without a mask and feel like it’s comfortable that you aren’t going to be at risk.” All of this is in line with other comments the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director has made in recent weeks, including his belief that serious vaccine testing won’t begin until early 2021. (That’s in defiance of Donald Trump’s assertions that there’ll be a safe vaccine by Election Day in November, but hey, what else is new?)
You can watch the full video below. The theater talk arrives around the 35-minute mark.