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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

An upswing in COVID-19 cases and persistent fears of spread are puncturing reopening plans — just as they were taking off.

Driving the news: Producers have canceled theater performances, both on and off Broadway.

Why it matters: Businesses hardest hit during the pandemic can’t catch a break. 

  • Service, leisure and entertainment sectors had started to reopen during a two-month dip in cases in late spring and early summer. They then had to immediately contend with the rise of the Delta variant. And now, they have to manage through the Omicron variant.

The whiplash has barely shifted consumer confidence, but it's caused a reversal of policies for businesses — notably indoor mask mandates. It's also prompted new policies, like Philadelphia’s recent indoor dining vaccine requirement.

  • The effect of new cases on bottom lines is immediate — like hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost profits for a week of "Mrs. Doubtfire" shows, the New York Times reports.
  • Rescheduled shows put on by Live Nation have driven up no-shows from 12% in 2019 to 17% this year, per WSJ.

On the flip side: At-home stocks are still getting clobbered, as investors largely see an adjustment to a new "mixed reality," says Anastasia Amoroso, chief investment strategist at iCapital Network.

  • Some businesses will operate under the assumption that a new normal will likely involve periodic outbreaks and temporary mitigation measures, she adds.
  • "The toolkit to manage COVID is here today, like it wasn't before," Amoroso says.

The bottom line: "We're still on the path forward out of this pandemic. But it's not going to be a straight line to get to the finish line," says Amoroso.

Go deeper

COVID is disrupting some North Texas school schedules

Expand chart
Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Several North Texas school districts have canceled classes for the rest of the week, while others are now requiring students and staff to wear masks in response to a surge of new coronavirus cases.

Why it matters: Pediatric hospitals have reported an increase in positive COVID test results in the month since the first omicron case was reported in North Texas.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

British national named in Colleyville synagogue standoff

A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Jan. 16. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, the FBI said in a statement.

State of play: Authorities had initially declined to release the name of the 44-year-old suspect or identify the hostages, all adults, though police chief Michael Miller confirmed that one of those held was Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who leads the congregation.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron — Deaths are climbing as cases skyrocket.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health" — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— — CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: West Virginia governor feeling "extremely unwell" after positive test — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers — America struggles to keep schools open
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker