Bruce Springsteen is bringing glory days back to New York next week, when his show becomes the first to reopen on Broadway since the lights went out for the coronavirus pandemic. But fans without vaccinations approved by the US government will be left dancing in the dark.
The Boss has laid down strict rules for attendees of Springsteen on Broadway, which reopens on 26 June at the St James theatre. For admission, ticketholders must be able to prove they have received one of the three Covid-19 vaccinations with emergency use authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration: the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson.
This means those who have had doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford jab, which is not approved for use in the US but is popular in Canada, the UK and other countries, will not be allowed in for what the show’s producers are billing “an intimate night with Bruce, his guitar, a piano and his stories”.
Understandably, the news was not well received in Canada, where the Toronto Star published a report on the perceived snub with the headline Burn in the USA, a play on the title of one of the 71-year-old Springsteen’s bestselling hits.
“The show must go on. But if you got the AstraZeneca vaccine, you’re not invited,” the newspaper wrote.
The theatre’s owners, Jujamcyn, said it imposed the stipulation “at the direction of New York state”, and that the only exception would be for children 16 or younger, who must still produce proof of a recent negative Covid-19 test and be accompanied by a fully-vaccinated adult.
Mask-wearing is not required, and producers point out that seating inside the 1,710-capacity theatre is not socially distant.
Springsteen on Broadway is being seen as a test for a wider Broadway reopening, with many other shows not planning their own curtains-up until September or later.
The singer expressed his frustration at not being able to perform because of the pandemic in an interview with the New York Times last year. “My band is at its best, and we have so much accumulated knowledge and craft about what we do that this was a time in my life where I said, ‘I want to use that as much as I can’,” he said.
“I’m at a point in my playing life and artistic life where I’ve never felt as vital.”
AstraZeneca has had a bumpy ride attempting to get its vaccine approved in the US. The company claims the immunisation is 76% effective in preventing symptomatic Covid-19, 85% effective in those over 65, and 100% effective against severe disease and hospitalisation.
Despite the vaccine’s approval in Canada, the UK and Europe, the FDA has demanded evidence from larger-scale trials, results of which the company announced in March.
The Wall Street Journal reported last month that the company was considering forgoing an application for emergency use authorisation in the US and skipping straight to seeking full approval