WWE will resume live television matches starting on Monday, bringing an end to a stretch of pre-taped programming over the past several weeks -- which included WrestleMania 36 earlier this month -- that was necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic. "Monday Night Raw" will kick off its live return at WWE's training facility in Orlando, Florida.
Also airing at the Orlando training facility will be SmackDown on Friday, while NXT will air on Wednesday from Full Sail University, as per usual, in Winter Park, Florida. All of these live events will continue to take place without fans in attendance.
"We believe it is now more important than ever to provide people with a diversion from these hard times," WWE said in a statement to ESPN. "We are producing content on a closed set with only essential personnel in attendance following appropriate guidelines while taking additional precautions to ensure the health and wellness of our performers and staff. As a brand that has been woven into the fabric of society, WWE and its Superstars bring families together and deliver a sense of hope, determination and perseverance."
WWE also noted that only essential personnel would be allowed at the venue where this will take place. Pro Wrestling Sheet, which first reported this news, said the decision of this return to live programming was made on Friday.
The move has drawn its share of controversy, with many wondering how an entertainment entity such as WWE is allowed to continue operations in this capacity. During a Monday press conference, Orange County, Florida, mayor Jerry Demings provided some clarification. Demings revealed that WWE was originally deemed to be non-essential, but that classification was reversed following conversations with the office of Florida governor Ron DeSantis.
Orange County Mayor Demmings just now on WWE maintaining live tapings:— Harry (@harryaaron) April 13, 2020
"Originally, they were not deemed an essential business. With some conversation with the governor's office regarding the governor's order, they were deemed an essential business."
DeSantis issued a stay-at-home order for the state that is scheduled to run through April 30. Only supermarkets, clinics, banks, pharmacies and other daily necessities are allowed to stay open during this time.
Pro Wrestling Sheet also confirmed that a WWE employee tested positive for coronavirus. WWE released the following statement on the issue to the site:
"A WWE employee has tested positive for COVID-19. We believe this matter is low risk to WWE talent and staff, as the individual and a roommate became symptomatic in the days following exposure to two people working in acute health care on the evening of March 26, after WWE's TV production on a closed set was already complete. The employee had no contact with anyone from WWE since being exposed to those two individuals, is doing well, and made a complete recovery."
The unnamed employee has remained in quarantine.