Is 'Saturday Night Live' violating NY’s coronavirus rules?

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“Saturday Night Live” recently announced new countermeasures to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus as it resumes production for Season 46 this week.

Filming will return to the famed Studio 8H and the show will be bringing live audience members back with stringent protocols. However, despite the series' ample checkpoints, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration questions whether the plan laid out by the show regarding its live audience adheres to state COVID-19 restrictions, Fox News has learned.

To illustrate: Live events, in which tickets are sold or handed out with the purpose of filling audience seats, are currently not allowed in New York. However, for TV shows or movies that are to be broadcast later or simultaneously to an audience online or on screens, a live audience is allowed because the state deems this as a production.

A program such as “SNL” could fall into various categories of production given the fact it is a comedy sketch show with a live audience- - hence, the proverbial gray area for which “SNL” appears to have found ambiguity in the verbiage.

Colin Jost, left, and Michael Che during the Weekend Update sketch on "Saturday Night Live" in New York. (Will Heath/NBC via AP, File)

On Thursday, a source connected to “SNL” told Fox News the show is “working very closely with the Department of Health and following all of their guidelines.”

Studio guests are required to take a mandatory COVID-19 test upon arrival. The test is self-administered and can yield results in time for the show. As an extra precaution, temperature checks will also be required at check-in, according to the ticket website. If anyone has a temperature higher than 100.4 they and their party will not be allowed in.

Additionally, face masks will be required for audience members at all times while in the building, with strict rules about what is allowed as a protective face covering. Bandanas, gaiters and masks with vents will not be allowed inside.

Finally, potential audience members will have to answer a series of questions relating to their health, such as “Are you exhibiting any symptoms related to COVID-19?” “Have you exhibited any symptoms to COVID-19 in the last 14 days?” “Have you had a positive COVID-19 test within the past 14 days?"


While the requirements may sound restrictive, the Oct. 3 live show is already sold out of tickets, a statistic that may have been aided by the fact the show set aside free tickets for health care professionals, according to the New York Post.

Cuomo’s COVID-19 restriction plan limits live audiences for television shows, movies and other media productions to no more than 100 people or 25% of the venue's capacity, whichever is lower.

However, per the Democrat & Chronicle newspaper, a typical studio audience for the beloved program carries a capacity of around 300 people.


Funnyman Chris Rock is set to host the return episode with Megan Thee Stallion as the musical guest.

The New York City Department of Health did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Fox News’ Tyler McCarthy contributed to this report.

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