The popular tourist attraction Hollywood BLVD has been badly hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic, with 75% of the famous street’s businesses now boarded up with little to no foot traffic.
“This is Hollywood Boulevard today, nine months into the pandemic-induced shutdown that has stripped the tourist destination of its usual 10 million annual visitors who clamor to take photos with costumed street performers and pose with their favorite celebrity’s star,” reported The Hollywood Reporter (THR).
“Much of Hollywood Boulevard is shuttered, with such crowd favorites as the Dolby, El Capitan, Chinese Theatre, Ripley’s Believe It or Not and Hard Rock Cafe closed since March. Madame Tussauds opened for two days in June, says GM Ed Bell, before it was reshut by county rules,” the report added.
Street performers have largely been put out of businesses due to the lack of tourists and because of expanded coronavirus restrictions.
“The pandemic has canceled what I do for a living,” street performer Mark Roman told THR. “I don’t know how I’m going to financially survive, but I’m trying to figure it out.”
The boulevard’s world-famous “Hollywood Walk of Fame” has gone equally silent, with only one star being dedicated in August to actor Anthony Anderson. That dedication happened via Zoom.
“The cancellation of the ceremonies, plus the red carpet premieres that would take over Hollywood & Highland at least once a week and the transition of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, which films at the El Capitan, to no audience, means even those who came just for the chance of spotting a famous face have little reason to visit,” said THR.
Although restaurants, bars, and other small businesses are being shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hollywood industry as a whole appears to have weathered the storm by adopting strict standards of conduct on film sets. According to Netflix executives, this trend will continue for the next one to two years.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Momita Sengupta, Netflix’s VP Production Manager for Original Series, and Kwame Parker, Director of Production Management, talked about the company’s “Let’s Keep Rolling” campaign to educate employees about the importance of social distancing so that people can work.
“Everything that we are doing now with testing and PPE is probably going to remain through all of next year — not probably, it is going to remain through all of next year,” Parker told THR.
“It’s been a challenge from day one. There is nothing about our industry and making shows that is about being six feet apart,” Sengupta said of the measures. “We are a touchy-feely, close-contact industry. We have fantastic protocols but for an industry that is so used to coming close to each other and working out an issue — a director talking to an actor about what she or he needs from that scene — to have to do that with your mask, to be six feet apart, to have all these monitors saying, ‘Hey, watch your distance,’ it’s really, really hard.”