The widespread measures of social distancing hit the American entertainment and sports industries hard this week, and now everything from Hollywood films to the Great White Way are being impacted. And this is a very good thing, even though we are in uncharted territory both economically and societally.
Just today the New York Times' The Daily podcast discussed how the drastic — and some say draconian — measures being taken in China and South Korea have shown to be immensely successful in curtailing the spread of the coronavirus. And how the U.S. is reacting much the way Italy did after it had a small outbreak in the north of the country — refusing to shut down nightclubs and generally being in denial about how quickly this virus can spread and explode, until suddenly it does.
The social-distancing orders are going to have devastating economic effects nationwide, no doubt, and everyone from service-industry and gig-economy workers to Broadway actors are going to feel the pain — the UK Independent has the headline today "Coronavirus Will Bankrupt More People Than It Kills — and That's the Real Global Emergency."
Measures being taken to cordon off New Rochelle, in Westchester County just outside of New York City, complete with National Guard troops, will hopefully help slow down the spread of the virus there.
And Thursday, as the Associated Press reports, all Broadway theaters have canceled shows through April 12, and the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center, the New York Philharmonic, and Carnegie Hall have all canceled events through March 31.
Hollywood movies like A Quiet Place Part 2 and the next Fast and the Furious installment (titled F9, though it feels like F89) are seeing their opening dates postponed — in the case of F9, it's being pushed to April 2021.
In California, the Disneyland and California Adventure parks are closing as of March 14, despite there not being any evidence yet of virus cases at the parks. As KRON4 reports, guests are being permitted to stay at Disney hotels through March 16 as they make travel arrangements.
And earlier today, California Governor Gavin Newsom banned events of over 1,000 people statewide, and recommended the cancellation or postponement of gatherings of 250 or more people through at least the end of the month.
In San Francisco that means no more Broadway SF shows (like Hamilton or The Book of Mormon) at least through the end of March, and the Giants are postponing spring training and Major League Baseball is now postponing opening day for the season at least two weeks. The NBA has already suspended its season and two players on the Utah Jazz have tested positive for COVID-19.
This is not to say that everyone needs to stay completely isolated in San Francisco, and no one is recommending that — yet. Keeping a safe distance from others and generally washing your hands a lot — for 20 seconds — and being conscious not to touch your face are the basic recommendations for stopping the spread of the virus. But we can minimize the impacts on the local restaurant economy by continuing to patronize the businesses we normally would, or at least getting takeout from them — you can minimize the number of hands on your food by physically picking it up if you do not have a mandatory reason for self-quarantining.
Photo: Sudan Ouyang