Broadway theatres have confirmed they will be closed through the remainder of 2020 due to COVID-19 and will return when “theatres can safely host full houses.”

The announcement means that the most recent September 6 target for reopening the 41 New York City venues, which have been shut since March 12, has evaporated.

The Broadway League said theatres are now offering refunds and exchanges for tickets purchased for all performances through to January 3, 2021.

The industry’s trade organisation, the Broadway League, said it is continuing to work with city and state officials to formulate a plan to restart, with screening and testing, cleaning and sanitising, wayfinding inside theatres, and backstage protocols among some of the logistics being currently reviewed.

Thomas Schumacher, Broadway League chairman, said: “The Broadway experience can be deeply personal but it is also, crucially, communal. The alchemy of 1,000 strangers bonding into a single audience fuelling each performer on stage and behind the scenes will be possible again when Broadway theatres can safely host full houses.

“Every single member of our community is eager to get back to work sharing stories that inspire our audience through the transformative power of a shared live experience. The safety of our cast, crew, orchestra and audience is our highest priority and we look forward to returning to our stages only when it’s safe to do so. One thing is for sure, when we return we will be stronger and more needed than ever.”

Tickets purchased for all performances through to January 2021 will be refunded or exchanged, the league said. Passes for performances for next winter and spring are expected to go on sale in the coming weeks.

Broadway was shut down in March when 31 productions were running, including eight new shows in previews. The theatre district is one of New York’s top tourist attractions and, according to The Broadway League, contributed $14.7bn to the city’s economy during the 2018–2019 season and supported 96,900 jobs.

Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, added: “Our membership is working closely with the theatrical unions and in concert with key experts and some of the greatest minds inside and outside of the industry to explore protocols for all aspects of reopening. We are focused on identifying and implementing necessary measures that will enable us to resume performances safely for Broadway audiences and employees.

“We are determined to bring back the people who rely on this industry for their livelihood, and to welcome back all those who love this vital part of New York City, as soon as it is safe to do so. As so many of us in the Broadway community have been saying during this time – We’ll be back, and we have so many more stories to tell.”